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Tales Of Trail And Town
by Bret Harte
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Francis Bret Harte (1836-1902) was a prolific American author and poet, best remembered for his accounts of pioneering life in California. The spirit of Dickens breathes through the poems and stories of Bret Harte just as the spirit of Bret Harte breathes through the poems and stories of Kipling.
The wind was getting up on the Bolinas Plain. It had started the fine alkaline dust along the level stage road, so that even that faint track, the only break in the monotony of the landscape, seemed fainter than ever. But the dust cloud was otherwise a relief; it took the semblance of distant woods where there was no timber, of moving teams where there was no life. And as Sue Beasley, standing in the doorway of One Spring House that afternoon, shading her sandy lashes with her small red hand, glanced along the desolate track, even HER eyes, trained to the dreary prospect, were once or twice deceived.
About the Author
Bret Harte loved the West and its people. Harte was not born in the West, but at Albany, New York, on August 25, 1839. His father was a professor of Greek at Albany College, and died during the boyhood of his son. Bret Harte, after a common school education, went with his mother to California at the age of seventeen. There he became a jack of all trades, but, contrary to the old saying, he became master of one - short story writing. At various times he was a teacher, miner, printer, express messenger, secretary of the San Francisco Mint, and editor.
It was as a short story writer, however, that Bret Harte did his best work. His "Tales of California" introduced a fresh, vigorous, new note into fiction. Among the tales that made him famous were "The Luck of Roaring Camp," "The Outcasts of Poker Flat," and "How Santa Claus Came to Simpsons Bar." People saw that there had arrived one who could tell vividly of this new land of miners, gamblers, and picturesque landscapes, and one who combined humor, pathos, and power in his writing.
Bret Harte wrote a great deal. Forty-four volumes were published by him between 1867 and 1898. He was professor in the University of California for one year. He moved to New York in 1871 and lived there until 1878. During the next two years he was United States Consul at Crefeld, Germany, and from 1880 to 1885 Consul at Glasgow. Thereafter he lived in London, engaged in literary work. Bret Harte died at Camberley, England, on May 5, 1902.
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