H.L. Mencken
Historical Figure
Nationality: United States
Date of Birth: 1880
Date of Death: 1956
Cause of Death: Natural Causes
Religion: Agnostic
Occupation: Journalist, Satirist
Spouse: Sara Haardt (d.1935)
Professional Affiliations: Baltimore Sun
Turtledove Appearances:
The War That Came Early
POD: July 20, 1936;
Relevant POD: September 29, 1938
Appearance(s): West and East
Coup d'Etat
Type of Appearance: Contemporary references
Joe Steele
POD: 1878;
Relevant POD: July, 1932
Novel or Story?: Novel only
Type of Appearance: Contemporary references
"The House That George Built"
POD: 1914
Type of Appearance: Direct POV
Henry Louis "H. L." Mencken (September 12, 1880 – January 29, 1956), of Baltimore, Maryland, was a journalist, essayist, magazine editor, satirist, and acerbic critic of American life and culture, and a student of American English. Mencken, known as the "Sage of Baltimore", is regarded as one of the most influential American writers and prose of the first half of the 20th century.

H.L. Mencken in The War That Came EarlyEdit

Mike Carroll was fond of H.L. Mencken's writing, despite Mencken's being very far from politically correct. Carroll quoted Mencken to Chaim Weinberg to express his distaste for Weinberg's unseemly interest in propagandizing Spanish Nationalists serving as POWs in Madrid: "I detest converts almost as much as I do missionaries."[1]

Mencken once remarked "No one in this world, so far as I know, has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people." Peggy Druce had been fond of his writings and considered him to be the cleverest man alive prior to World War II but she changed her opinion of him when she learned of his pro-Nazi views. Her husband Herb Druce reminded her that he had always been pro-German as he left The Baltimore Sun for a time during World War I because of his support for Kaiser Wilhelm II.[2]

H.L. Mencken in Joe SteeleEdit

When Mike Sullivan brought his article "Land of the Free and Home of the Labor Camp!", a piece on President Joe Steele's proposed bill establishing such camps, to his editor Stan Feldman, he expressed his desire to stir up the public and get them to oppose it. Feldman was skeptical it would achieve that, quoting H.L. Mencken: "Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people".[3]

H.L. Mencken in "The House That George Built" Edit

In February 1941, H. L. Mencken stopped in at a Baltimore establishment called George's Restaurant for a beer. He listened attentively to the owner, former minor league baseball player, George Ruth, reminiscing about his life and career. It was Ruth's contention that had one or two crucial events been different at the very start of his career, he would have been remembered as one of the game's greatest players.

Mencken listened dutifully and attentively as he drank, often internally disputing Ruth's points. Once Ruth concluded, Mencken was reminded first of Thomas Gray's "Elegy", which contained the line Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest. Mencken had written a response some years before: There are no mute, inglorious Miltons, save in the imaginations of poets. The one sound test of a Milton is that he functions as a Milton. He could not accept that Ruth could have been another Buzz Arlett. He didn't share this with Ruth, but instead finished his beer, thanked Ruth and went back about his business.


  1. West and East, pg. 266.
  2. Coup d'Etat, Chapter 13.
  3. Joe Steele, pg. 129, HC.

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