H.L. Mencken is perhaps our most celebrated journalist. Among the best books he wrote, and certainly one of the most timeless, was Newspaper Days, a memoir about his early years as a Baltimore reporter and editor at the turn of the century. The book is part of The Days Trilogy (in between Happy Days and Heathen Days), newly published by the Library of America in a handsome single volume that includes 200 pages of additional commentary by Mencken. According to Marion Elizabeth Rodgers, who edited this collection, Mencken’s “Notes, Additions and Corrections” were “written mainly between 1943 and 1946, with perhaps a few entries after that up to 1948. Because he was writing about people who were still alive, he sealed these papers under time lock, not to be opened until 25 years after his death, which turned out to be in 1981. As he put it, ‘the passage of time would release all confidences and the grave close over all tender feelings.’”
Published for the first time with Mencken’s addenda, The Days Trilogy is better than ever. Take for instance this gem of a story written about the horrific Baltimore fire of 1904. What follows contains two sets of notes—those that accompanied the first edition of Newspaper Days, as well as the additional notes that were released posthumously.
Dig in and relish this treat, made possible with permission from The Library of America; Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of The Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC; and the Enoch Pratt Free Library.