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Featured Books

Collected Works of Bret HarteSummary and Reviews of Collected Works of Bret Harte
Condensed NovelsSummary and Reviews of Condensed Novels
East and West Poems (Dodo Press)Summary and Reviews of East and West Poems (Dodo Press)
A Ward of the Golden GateSummary and Reviews of A Ward of the Golden Gate
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Bret Harte

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Francis Bret Harte (1836-1902) was a writer of early California..  He wasn't born there, and he didn't die there; however, he spent enough time as a Californian as a young adult to catch the adventurous flavor of the place during the gold rush.  He moved there when he was seventeen and did just about everything a California man of that day had to do to survive-from mining to teaching.  His first major turn at writing came in 1860 with the reporting of a massacre of Wiyot Indians in Humboldt Bay, California.  As an assistant editor of the local Northern Californian newspaper, he exercised his prerogative to condemn in writing the slaughter of about 100 defenseless and innocent people, mostly women and children.

Harte's first literary efforts included poems and stories written for a literary journal, The Californian.  He, himself, soon became editor of another California literary journal called The Overland Monthly.  Harte printed his own short story, "The Luck of Roaring Camp," in The Overland Monthly, and soon he was known around the country.  He followed this up with his masterpiece short story, "The Outcasts of Poker Flat," which he also published in The Overland Monthly.  His masterpiece of poetry was a tribute to Charles Dickens upon his death in 1870, for which Harte held the printing of the month's journal in order to include.

This fame eventually led him to move his family, in 1871, to New York and then Boston in order to pursue a literary career.  The Atlantic Monthly gave him a contract for a yearly salary of $10,000, an enormous sum for the early 1870s.  Unfortunately, for him his popularity proved fleeting, and he lost his contract within two years.

For all this, however, Harte did retain his good reputation to some measure, securing an appointment as U.S. Consul to Krefeld, Germany and then Glasgow, Scotland.  He eventually moved to London and continued to write mostly short stories and poems with a few novels, all of which are available today.  Harte died of throat cancer in 1902.

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