Humanities Department Collection and State Library Resources

H. L. Mencken

As a young man, Mencken claimed to be "one of the most assiduous customers that the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore has had in its whole history." He repaid the productive hours spent at the library by donating the books and papers that comprise the H. L. Mencken Collection, now part of Pratt's extensive digital collections

The Humanities Department owns many of Mencken's works, including the following:

The American Language; an Inquiry into the Development of English in the United States. (4th ed., corr., enl., and rewritten) New York: Knopf, 1936.

Supplements I and II, New York: Knopf, 1945-1948. PE2808.M45 
Mencken's exhaustive venture into philology allowed him to examine in-depth the "diverging streams" of British and American English.

The Days of H. L. Mencken: Happy Days, Newspaper Days, Heathen Days. New York: Knopf, 1947. PS3525.E43 Z51
Delightful memoirs covering his youth in Baltimore, his apprenticeship with the Baltimore Sun, and his years as prominent editor and gadfly.

A Mencken Chrestomathy. New York: Knopf, 1949. PS3525.E43 A6
This "collection of choice passages" selected by Mencken himself offers a wide and representative selection from his writings; it was one of the last volumes completed before the stroke that ended his career.

A New Dictionary of Quotations on Historical Principles from Ancient and Modern SourcesNew York: Knopf, 1942. PN6081.M46  
Mencken's answer to Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, based on his own wide reading and research.

Prejudices (series 1-6). New York: Knopf, 1919-1927. PS3525.E43 P8 - PS3525.E43 P86
In which Mr. Mencken holds forth on various subjects, ranging from literature and the arts to the American scene (and its inanities).

Treatise on the Gods. (2nd ed., corr. and rewritten) New York: Knopf, 1946. BL48.M45 1946
An analysis of religion from the perspective of an agnostic.

Mencken proved as controversial in death as he was in life: the publication of The Diary of H. L. Mencken (New York: Knopf, 1989, PS3525.E43 Z463 1989) aroused a furor over his uncensored misanthropy, particularly in his comments about Jews and African-Americans. Yet the Diary also sparked a revival of interest in the Sage of Baltimore, leading to several new biographies and collections of his writings. Among some notable titles are the following:

  • Fitzpatrick, Vincent. H. L. Mencken. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 2004. PS3525.E43 Z554 2004 


  • Hobson, Fred C. Mencken: A Life. New York: Random House, 1994. PS3525.E43 Z467 1994 


  • Rodgers, Marion Elizabeth. Mencken: The American Iconoclast. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005. PS3525.E43 Z79 2005  


  • Teachout, Terry. The Skeptic: A Life of H. L. Mencken. New York: HarperCollins, 2002. PS3525.E43 Z84 2002  

The books listed above are only a sampling of Mencken's prodigious output; check the library catalog for more items. Interested in learning more? Contact the H. L. Mencken Room to schedule a visit, or see our page of H. L. Mencken Web sites.