Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century
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HARTE, Francis Bret, author, born in Albany, New York, 25 August, 1839. His father was a teacher in the Albany female seminary, a scholar of ripe culture. who died leaving his family with but little means. After an ordinary school education, the son went in 1854 to California with his mother. From San Francisco he walked to Sonora, and there opened a school; but this proved unsuccessful, and he turned his energies to mining. Fortune was not there, and he became a compositor in a printing office, beginning his literary career by composing his first articles in type while working at the case. During the absence of the editor he conducted the journal for a short time, but his articles were not in sympathy with the mining population, and his editorial experiences terminated abruptly. He drifted back to San Francisco, and in 1857 became a compositor in the office of the "Golden Era." The experience of his frontier life had been impressive, and his literary talents soon put to profitable use the vivid scenes of the past three years. Clever sketches, contributed at first anonymously, attracted the attention of the editor, and Harte was invited to join the corps of writers. Soon afterward he became associated in the management of "The Californian," a literary weekly, short-lived, but of interest as containing his "Condensed Novels." In 1864 he was appointed secretary of the United States branch mint, having previously held several minor political appointments, and filled this office for six years, during which time he wrote for San Francisco journals "John Burns of Gettysburg," "The Pliocene Skull," "The Society upon the Stanislau," and other poems, which were widely copied and universally admired, in July, 1868, the publication of "The Overland Monthly" was begun, with Mr. Harte as its organizer and editor. The second issue contained "The Luck of Roaring Camp," a story of mining life, which marks the beginning of his higher and more artistic work. It was the first of those sketches of American border experience of which he was the pioneer writer, and in which he originated that peculiar pseudo-dialect of western mining life. The next number contained "The Outcasts of Poker Flat," a realistic story, considered by many his best production. It established his reputation, and was followed in quick succession by "Miggles," "Tennessee's Partner," and "The Idyl of Red Gulch." The "Etc." of the early issues of the magazine were by him. In September, 1870, appeared his "Plain Language from Truthful James" (popularly known as "The Heathen Chinee"), a satire against the hue and cry that the Chinese were shiftless and weak-minded. He received the appointment of professor of recent literature in the University of California in 1870, but in the spring of 1871 resigned that chair, and also his editorial appointment, and settled in New York. An effort was made to found a literary periodical under his management in Chicago, but this failed, and he became a regular contributor to the "Atlantic Monthly," and lectured on "The Argonauts of '49" in various cities. In 1878 he was appointed United States consul to Crefeld, Germany, whence he was transferred in 1880 to Glasgow, Scotland, and continued in that office until the advent of a new administration in 1885. At present (1887)he is residing abroad, engaged in literary pursuits. His publications include "Condensed Novels" (New York, 1867; Boston, 1871); "Poems" (Boston, 1871); "Luck of Roaring Camp and Other Sketches" (1871); "East and West Poems" (1871); "Poetical Works" (1871); "Mrs. Skaggs's Husbands" (1872); "Tales of the Argonauts and Other Stories" (1875); "Thankful Blossom " (1876); " Two Men of Sandy Bar" (1876); "Gabriel Conroy" (Hartford, 1876); "The Story of a Mine" (Boston, 1877); "Echoes of the Foot Hills" (1879); "Drift from Two Shores" (1878); "The Twins of Table Mountain" (1879): "Flip and Found at Blazing Star" (1882); "In the Carquinez Woods" (1883); "On the Frontier" (1884); "By Shore and Sedge" (1885); "Maruja, a Novel" (1885); "Snow Bound at Eagle's" (1886); "A Millionaire of Rough and Ready" (1887); "The Crusade of the Excelsior" (1887); also his collected "Works" (5 vols., 1882).
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