San Francisco : History :
Bret Harte (1836-1902)

image credit - more photos
Bret Harte


Biography 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. 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.

Harte became the first editor of the Overland Monthly. "The Luck of Roaring Camp" published in the Overland Monthly brought him instant and wide fame. He was thereafter requested to contribute poems and articles to a number of publications. His stories of the American West were much in demand in the eastern United States. In 1871 he moved to New York. He later moved to Boston. Harte continued to write poetry and prose, and enjoyed wide popularity.

In 1878 Bret Harte was appointed United States Counsul at Crefeld, Germany.† Harte was transferred to Glasgow, Scotland in 1880. Thereafter he resided in London.

He died in Camberely, England on May 6, 1902.
A Brief Biography of Bret Harte [from the Central California Poetry Journal with selected poems]

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. ... Harte, Bret at ENCYCLOP∆DIA BRITANNICA

Note that most sources say he was born in 1936.

His writing ...
About the Writer ... Bret Harte's witty, sometimes heart-rending tales of frontier California earned him acclaim during the 1860s as the "new prophet of American letters." Eastern magazines courted him for submissions, no less a critic than San Francisco's own Ambrose Bierce called his humor "incomparable," and the highlights of Harte's oeuvre--from "The Luck of Roaring Camp" to "The Outcasts of Poker Flat" and "Mliss"--helped establish the foundations of western American fiction.
PROMISE UNKEPT - a chapter in San Francisco, You're History! By J. Kingston Pierce

BRET HARTE has himself told the story of how while occupied with his secretarial duties at the San Francisco Mint-and his literary work religiously carried on outside mint hours-George Barnes, a brother journalist, introduced him to a young man whose appearance was decidedly interesting. "His head" he writes, "was striking. He had the curly hair, the aquiline nose, and even the aquiline eye-an eye so eagle-like that a second lid would not have surprised me-of an unusual and dominant nature. ... Criticisms and Interpretations By T. Edgar Pemberton

Francis Bret Harte came out to California as Secretary of the U.S. Branch Mint, and in 1866 published a volume entitled "Outcroppings of California Verse," which gave much offense, especially to those whose effusions were not included within its covers. In 1867 "The Lost Galleon" appeared; in 1869 "The Heathen Chinee," and in 1870 "The Luck of Roaring camp." After editing The Overland Monthly for some time, Bret Harte grew too big for his environment, and left California ...
--Californian Literature,
By Arthur Inkersley

    From The American Short Story: A Selective Chronology ...

      l865 -- The Nation established; Mark Twain's "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" published in the New York Saturday Press; published with other stories in l867

      l868 -- Bret Harte's "The Luck of Roaring Camp" appears in the August Overland Monthly.

      l869 -- Harte's "The Outcasts of Poker Flat" appears in January Overland Monthly, after which Harte moves to Boston to be a contributing editor for Atlantic Monthly; his stories are collected in Sandy Bar, & Co. (l873).

      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. []

      1878 - appointed as United States consul in Germany []

      1885 - retired to London

      1902: dies from throat cancer in London [more Chronology]


  • The life of Bret Harte, by T. Edgar Pemberton [London, C.A. Pearson, 1903] The book was written about the time that Bret died in 1902 and almost finished when he died. Harte worked along with Pemberton on it.
  • The letters of Bret Harte, assembled and edited by Geoffrey Bret Harte. Boston and NY, Houghton Mifflin company, 1926
  • Bret Harte's Gold Rush : Outcasts of Poker Flat, the Luck of Roaring Camp, Tennessee's Partner, & Other Favorites, by Bret Harte [amazon].


  • Reuben, Paul P. "Chapter 5: Late Nineteenth Century - Bret Harte." PAL: Perspectives in American Literature- A Research and Reference Guide
  • The SAC LitWeb Bret Harte Page.

  • Bret Harte [filmography at The Internet Movie Database]
  • Bret Harte, 1836-1902 By Victoria Henderson Student, University of North Carolina at Pembroke - good bio, chronology, homes, etc.
  • The Poetry of Bret Harte [Central California Poetry Journal]
  • BRET HARTE: Popularity, Poetry and Performance (Anxiety)
  • Bret Harte (1836-1902) By Dr. Renard Doneskey - bio, themes, and study guide for American Literature, 1860-present


See also: LitLinks, American Authors on the Web and American Writers and Their Works 19th Century 1801-1850

You may add a comment to this page

Index - San Francisco History