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By Gary Scharnhorst

Bret Harte was once the best-known and highest-paid author in the USA within the early 1870s, but his vexed makes an attempt to generate income by way of his pen ended in the failure of his marriage and, in 1878, his departure for Europe. Gary Scharnhorst’s biography of Harte lines the growing to be advertisement attraction of western fiction and drama on each side of the Atlantic through the Gilded Age, a improvement during which Harte performed a very important role.

Harte’s pioneering use of California neighborhood colour in such tales as "The Outcasts of Poker Flat" challenged genteel assumptions approximately western writing and helped open jap papers to contributions via Mark Twain and others. the recognition of Bret Harte’s writings was once pushed principally via a literary industry that his western tales helped create.

The first Harte biography in approximately seventy years to be written totally from fundamental resources, this e-book records Harte’s own relationships and, moreover, his negotiations with a number of publishers, brokers, and theatrical manufacturers as he exploited renowned curiosity within the American West.

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Additional info for Bret Harte: Opening the American Literary West (Oklahoma Western Biographies)

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He had “curly hair,” an “aquiline nose,” and “an eye so eagle-like that a second lid would not have surprised me. . His eyebrows were very thick and bushy. ” Clemens soon “dropped in on me again” to spin an extravagant yarn, “as graphic as it was delicious,” much to the delight of Harte, who urged him to write it up. ” Harte reprinted the jumping-frog story in the Californian in December 1865 as it was originally published in the New York Saturday Gazette. Harte soon hired the “genial humorist” to write an article a week for the Californian at a salary of fifty dollars a month.

Despite his initial reservations, Harte “manifested the same fastidiousness” in managing the affairs of the Overland “that characterized his own work,” according to Brooks. “I am trying to build up a literary taste on the Pacific slope,” Harte wrote the New York Unitarian minister Henry W. Bellows, and “we may be shortlived. ” Still, the very survival of the Overland seemed unlikely when the August 1868 number, only its second issue, was put into production in mid-July. In his account of the genesis of the magazine, Roman claimed he had convinced Harte that “the early California gold diggers and their mining camps” were “comparatively new ground” for fiction, though Harte had been tapping this fertile vein of local color off and on since 1860.

The regard in which Harte held the other two poets may be inferred from this startling fact: all but one of the seventeen lyrics in the first volume of the Overland Monthly were written by Stoddard, Coolbrith, or the editor himself. Despite his sinecure in the Mint, Harte needed to supplement his income to support his growing family if not to pay for his own extravagancies. With the Californian foundering he became a part-time drama critic for the Morning Call, and he struck a deal with Warren Sawyer, managing editor of the Christian Register, a Unitarian weekly published in Boston, to become its California correspondent.

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