By Gary Scharnhorst
Bret Harte was once the best-known and highest-paid author in the United States 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 strains the starting to be advertisement charm of western fiction and drama on each side of the Atlantic in the course of the Gilded Age, a improvement during which Harte performed an 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 by way of Mark Twain and others. the recognition of Bret Harte’s writings was once pushed mostly via a literary marketplace that his western tales helped create.
The first Harte biography in approximately seventy years to be written totally from fundamental resources, this booklet records Harte’s own relationships and, moreover, his negotiations with numerous publishers, brokers, and theatrical manufacturers as he exploited well known curiosity within the American West.
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Additional resources for Bret Harte: Opening the American Literary West (The Oklahoma Western Biographies)
Even more than the contretemps over publication of “The Luck,” Harte’s defiance of civic authority would prompt him in 1871 to resign his position with the Overland and to leave the West forever. ” The nine tales he wrote for the Overland—the stories that crystalized his reputation—were, in fact, pitched in every case to appeal to eastern readers who were intrigued by the overland monthly 43 the romance of the gold rush. ” Or, as Harte explained at the time, he aspired simply to collect “the materials for the Iliad that is yet to be sung” in epic strains about gold-rush California.
He informed the publisher that the question of the propriety of the story was no longer at issue: the only question was of his capacity to exercise the proper editorial judgment; and that unless he was permitted to test that capacity by the publication of the story, and abide squarely by the result, he must resign his editorial position. The publisher, possibly struck with the author’s confidence, possibly from kindliness of disposition to a younger man, yielded, and “The Luck of Roaring Camp” was published .
During the months he began to mature as a writer, not coincidentally, Harte also became the protégé of Jessie Benton Frémont, wife of “the Pathfinder” John Frémont, a military hero and the Republican candidate for president in 1856. Like a sentry alert for promising young artists and writers, Jessie Frémont had started a salon of sorts in Black Point, her home overlooking San Francisco Bay. Impressed by one of Harte’s sketches in the Golden Era that she read while on a steamboat en route to Stockton, California, Frémont invited the author to join her circle of antislavery intellectuals in the fall of 1860.