Henry Louis Mencken, better known as H. L. Mencken, was born on 12 September 1880 in Baltimore, Maryland. He became the most accomplished and widely known American journalist-author of the twentieth century. The skills and attitudes he acquired as a reporter carried over to his roles as book reviewer, editorial writer, columnist, and then editor for the Smart Set and the American Mercury magazines as well as for daily newspapers, especially the Baltimore Sunpapers and the New York Evening Mail. In his lifetime, thirty-one of his books were published, ten of them based on his own extensive research or experience, the rest in part revised and rewritten versions of his journalism. Mencken's career as a published author began in 1903 with a successful book of his poems and his last twentieth-century publication was the posthumous A Second Mencken Chrestomathy in 1995. With his ear for the rhythms and sounds of American English, Mencken moved his readers powerfully, some to anger at the outrageousness of his attitudes, others to gleeful celebration at the promise of liberation those attitudes represented. His blistering ridicule of nineteenth-century American moral and cultural values, and of the traditions that enshrined those values, was part of a resurgence in American life, a second renaissance, “America's Coming-of-Age” as the critic Van Wyck Brooks called it in 1915Less
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