Picture of H. L. Mencken


Lifetime: 1880 - 1956 Passed: ≈ 68 years ago


Journalist, Essayist, Satirist, Social critic


United States

H.L Mencken

As a scholar, Mencken is known for The American Language, a multi-volume study of how the English language is spoken in the United States. As an admirer of the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, he was an outspoken opponent of organized religion, theism, populism, and representative democracy, the last of which he viewed as a system in which inferior men dominated their superiors.Mencken was a supporter of scientific progress and was critical of osteopathy and chiropractic. He was also an open critic of economics.

Henry Louis Mencken (September 12, 1880 – January 29, 1956) was an American journalist, essayist, satirist, cultural critic, and scholar of American English. He commented widely on the social scene, literature, music, prominent politicians, and contemporary movements. His satirical reporting on the Scopes Trial, which he dubbed the "Monkey Trial," also gained him attention.

In 1930, Mencken married Sara Haardt, a German-American professor of English at Goucher College in Baltimore and an author eighteen years his junior.

Mencken died in his sleep on January 29, 1956.He was interred in Baltimore's Loudon Park Cemetery.

Books by H.L Mencken

In Defence of Women Cover image

In Defence of Women

Marriage Progressive Reactionary Women's Rights

In Defense of Women is H. L. Mencken’s 1918 book on women and the relationship between the sexes. Some laud the book as progressive while others brand it as reactionary. While Mencken didn’t champion women’s rights, he described women as wiser in man...

 The American Language Cover image

The American Language

Linguistics Literary Criticism Writing

The American Language; An Inquiry into the Development of English in the United States, first published in 1919, is H. L. Mencken's book about the English language as spoken in the United States.

Prejudices, First Series  Cover image

Prejudices, First Series

Social Science Culture Literary Criticism Short Works America Anthropology United States

The late war, very unpopular at the start, was “sold” to them, as the advertising phrase has it, by representing it as a campaign for the salvation of democracy, half religious and wholly altruistic. So represented to them, they embraced it; represen...

Damn! A Book of Calumny  Cover image

Damn! A Book of Calumny

Social Science Culture America Anthropology Classics Music Prose United States

In Damn! A Book of Calumny, H.L. Mencken gives his opinion on a wide variety of subjects ranging from William Jennings Bryan, through Classical Music, to Zoos.

The American Credo Cover image

The American Credo

Political Science
Politics political Religious America Commentary United States

American Credo: A Contribution to the Interpretation of the National Mind is a clever, cynical assault published in 1920 by Mencken and his co-author, a drama critic named George Jean Nathan with whom he would co-found The American Mercury in 1924. I...

Notes On Democracy Cover image

Notes On Democracy

Political Science
Fear Politics Social Science Culture Society Anthropology Beliefs Democracy

This is a bold and incisive exploration of the concept of democracy and its inherent contradictions. In this provocative book, Mencken challenges conventional wisdom and invites readers to question the foundations of democratic governance. Written i...

Prejudices, Second Series Cover image

Prejudices, Second Series

Analysis Religious Criticism social commentary Cultural Traditions Political Intrigue

Step into the world of unapologetic commentary and fearless critique with "Prejudices, Second Series" by H. L. Mencken. With biting wit and incisive prose, Mencken navigates the tumultuous waters of early 20th century American society, culture, and p...