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Bret Harte - California writer

(1836-1902). Originator of the American local-color story, Bret Harte wrote of the lawless, burly life of early California mining camps. Known for his stories of the American West, he grew up in the East and spent his last years in England. Francis Bret Harte was born in Albany New York on August 25, 1839.

In 1854, his mother, a widow, moved him to California. In California Harte worked as a miner, school teacher, express messenger, printer, and journalist. In 1860 he took a job with a San Francisco newspaper and published the first of his sketches.

While in San Francisco writing for The Californian he worked with Mark Twain, Charles Warren Stoddard, Prentice Mulford and the editor, Henry Webb. He contributed many poems and prose pieces to the paper.

Bret Harte was appointed Secretary of the United States Branch Mint at San Francisco. He held that office until 1870.

As editor of the Overland Monthly, he wrote his most famous stories, "The Luck of Roaring Camp," published in 1868, and "The Outcasts of Poker Flat," a year later. Other stories include "The Twins of Table Mountain" (1879) and "Ingénue of the Sierras" (1893). A comic poem, `Plain Language from Truthful James' (1870) is also known as `The Heathen Chinee'.

Bret Harte returned to the East in 1871 a famous man. The Atlantic Monthly paid him a large sum of money to write for them for a year, but Harte soon ran out of fresh ideas. He lectured for a time on California life and then served as a United States consul, first in Crefeld, Germany, and later in Glasgow, Scotland. After 1885 he lived in England.

He died in London on May 5, 1902.

Brown at Calaveras

Outcasts at Poker Flat

The Luck of Roaring Camp