Calling all curmudgeons: The Enoch Pratt Free Library is set to honor H.L. Mencken at Saturday’s Mencken Day festivities with guest speakers, exhibits and other things that aren’t the Star-Spangled Spectacular. One special guest will consider the Sage of Baltimore’s place in civil rights history, while another will dress up like him and entertain cocktail-swilling fans at his house.
Born on West Lexington St. on Sept. 12, 1880, the early 20th century writer and critic spared few subjects from his acerbic barbs, and wrote with a style that influenced plenty of other writers you may have heard of in the process. Having already dedicated a room to honor him, the main branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library (400 Cathedral St.) rolls out a full day of events every year on the weekend closest to his birthday.
In fitting fashion for an event about a famous writer, the main event is the Mencken Memorial Lecture, which considers the finer points of Mencken’s biography and legacy. Climbing into the rhetorical ring this year is University of Maryland law professor Larry S. Gibson, who will consider whether Mencken was a “racist or civil rights champion.” The talk begins at 2 p.m.
If that’s not quite enough to bring you back to Old Baltimore, a group working to restore Mencken’s house is holding an event called Cocktails and Curmudgeons tonight at the 1524 Hollins St. site. If you think you see Mencken himself there, it’s not just the booze. Dr. John “Chuck” Chalberg will don the writer’s persona for the evening. Find more info and tickets at the Friends of H.L. Mencken House website.
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