Bret Harte loved the West and its people. Bret Harte was born in Albany, New York, in 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.
The stir of life in San Francisco stimulated Bret Harte in the years following the gold rush of 1849. Here he found human nature in the raw. There was no veneer. The community had not yet turned aside from digging and panning, winning and losing, long enough to look to its lawless community affairs. It is as a story teller that Bret Harte painted the most thrilling pictures of that time.
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.