Mencken FAQ


Q00. Who is H.L. Mencken?

A00. Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956) was an American newspaperman, author, and literary and social critic who was born and lived in Baltimore, MD. During his heyday, the decade of the ’20s, he was one of the most influential figures on the American Scene.

Q00. What did HLM write about?

A00. Mencken, a prolific writer, writing over ten million words in his career, had many interests. He wrote on food and drink, music, philology, politics, and religion and a myriad other topics.

Mencken's prose is a delight to read, and much of it is extremely funny, a detriment, as it has led some critics to class him as a humorist and ignore his serious thought.

Q00. What are some of the aspects of Mencken's character that keep interest in him alive to this day?

A00. Dr Fred C. Hobson, a recent biographer of Mencken, observes that:

“[a]mong the most intriguing aspects of Mencken is the number of paradoxes in the man. … this most famous twentieth-century opponent of “puritanism” was, in many respects, a puritan himself. He was famous as a South hater who, on more than one occasion, proclaimed himself a Southerner; a conservative who, in the 1920s, was lionized by liberals; a man who spoke of “niggeros,” “blackamoors,” and “coons,” yet (and this as a half Southerner) had black writers into his home as dinner guests and championed more African-American writers than any other editor of his time. He was … an apparent anti-Semite in much of his writing, both public and private, yet a man most of whose closest friends and associates for a time were Jewish, as well as one who gave a great deal of time and effort to helping individual Jews escape Hitler’s Germany. He was a reformer who hated the notion of reform. And he was the American writer of the twentieth century who would seem to be most nearly devoid of what Mark Twain called “the moral sense,” yet was a man always guided by fixed notions of right and wrong.” (Hobson, Mencken: A Life (1994), pp. xvii-xviii).

Q00. Where is Mencken buried?

A00. In Loudon Park Cemetery, Baltimore, MD. More information is at Localities.

Q00. What was the disposition of his remains.

A00. Mencken’s remains were cremated.