Harte, Bret

Harte, Bret
orig. Francis Brett Harte

born Aug. 25, 1836, Albany, N.Y., U.S.
died May 5, 1902, London, Eng.

U.S. writer.

He briefly experienced camp life in California mining country before becoming a newspaper and periodical editor and writer. His works, which helped create the local-colour school in American fiction, include the short stories "The Luck of Roaring Camp" (1868) and "The Outcasts of Poker Flat" (1869), the poem "The Heathen Chinee" (1870), and the play Ah Sin (1877; with Mark Twain). In an era when the West was a popular subject, these works made him internationally famous. His writing slumped in the 1870s, and he accepted consulships in Europe, never returning to the U.S.


By courtesy of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

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▪ American writer
original name  Francis Brett Harte  
born Aug. 25, 1836, Albany, N.Y., U.S.
died May 5, 1902, London, Eng.
 American writer who helped create the local-colour (local colour) school in American fiction.

      Harte's family settled in New York City and Brooklyn in 1845. His education was spotty and irregular, but he inherited a love of books and managed to get some verses published at age 11. In 1854 he left for California and went into mining country on a brief trip that legend has expanded into a lengthy participation in, and intimate knowledge of, camp life. In 1857 he was employed by the Northern Californian, a weekly paper. There his support of Indians and Mexicans proved unpopular; after a massacre of Indians in 1860, which he editorially deplored, he found it advisable to leave town.

      Returning to San Francisco, he was married and began to write for the Golden Era, which published the first of his Condensed Novels, brilliant parodies of James Fenimore Cooper, Charles Dickens, Victor Hugo, and others. He then became a clerk in the U.S. branch mint, a job that allowed freedom for editorship of the Californian, for which he engaged Mark Twain to write weekly articles.

      In 1868, after publishing a series of Spanish legends akin to Washington Irving's Alhambra, he was named editor of the Overland Monthly. For it he wrote “The Luck of Roaring Camp” and “The Outcasts of Poker Flat.” Following The Luck of Roaring Camp, and Other Sketches (1870), he found himself world famous. He furthered his reputation with “Plain Language from Truthful James” (1870), better known as “The Heathen Chinee,” a poem that attracted national attention. On it he based his best play, Ah Sin (1877), a collaboration with Twain.

      Flushed with success, Harte in 1871 signed with The Atlantic Monthly for $10,000 for 12 stories a year, the highest figure offered an American writer up to that time. Resigning a professorship at the University of California, Harte left for the East, never to return. In New England he was greeted as an equal by the writers Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, James Russell Lowell, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and William Dean Howells, and was lionized and toasted to the point of spiritual and moral breakdown. With personal and family difficulties, his work slumped. After several years of indifferent success on the lecture circuit, Harte in 1878 accepted consulships in Crefeld, Ger., and later in Glasgow, Scot. In 1885 he retired to London. His wife and family joined him at wide intervals, but he never returned to the United States.

      He found in England a ready audience for his tales of a past or mythical California long after American readers had tired of his formula. “Ingénue of the Sierras” and “A Protégée of Jack Hamlin's” (both 1893) are perhaps better than his earlier stories.

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Universalium. 2010.

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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Harte, Bret —  (1836–1902) American writer and editor; born Francis Brett Harte …   Bryson’s dictionary for writers and editors

  • HARTE, BRET —    American humourist, born at Albany, New York; went to California at 15; tried various occupations, mining, school mastering, printing, and literary sketching, when he got on the staff of a newspaper, and became eventually first editor of the… …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • Bret Harte — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Bret Harte Francis Bret Harte (25 de agosto de 1836–6 de mayo de 1902) fue un escritor estadounidense, famoso como poeta y sobre todo por sus crónicas y relatos sobre la vida del pionero en California, perteneciente… …   Wikipedia Español

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  • Bret Harte — (August 25, 1836 [Some sources say he was born in 1837. Even his gravestone has the wrong year 1837.] ndash; May 6, 1902) was an American author and poet, best remembered for his accounts of pioneering life in California. Life and careerHe was… …   Wikipedia

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  • Bret Harte Middle School — is the name of four middle schools in California, United States: * Bret Harte Middle School (San Jose, California) * Bret Harte Middle School (Oakland, California) * Bret Harte Middle School (Hayward, California) * Bret Harte Preparatory Middle… …   Wikipedia

  • Bret Harte — Bret Harte, CA U.S. Census Designated Place in California Population (2000): 5161 Housing Units (2000): 1250 Land area (2000): 0.562000 sq. miles (1.455573 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.000000 sq. miles (0.000000 sq. km) Total area (2000):… …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • Bret Harte, CA — U.S. Census Designated Place in California Population (2000): 5161 Housing Units (2000): 1250 Land area (2000): 0.562000 sq. miles (1.455573 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.000000 sq. miles (0.000000 sq. km) Total area (2000): 0.562000 sq. miles… …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

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