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Tales of the Argonauts and Other Sketches was first published in 1875, a time that Bret Harte was at his lowest literary and professional ebb. Harte had sought to lecture to paying audiences similarly to the incredibly successful tours of Mark Twain. But audiences didn't care for Harte's "dandified" appearance and lackluster in-person delivery.
Bret Harte is the editor, writer and friend of whom Mark Twain wrote, "He trimmed and schooled me patiently until he changed me from an awkward utterer of coarse grotesqueness to a writer of paragraphs and chapters." Harte hired Twain to write a story a week for the Californian in 1865, a time when Twain was an unknown, relatively untried writer. The author of "The Luck of Roaring Camp," and "The Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" ended up creating a part of literary history that's still treasured today; perhaps it's the most enduring legacy of "California's Gold."
Francis Bret Harte (1836 - 1902) was an American short story writer and poet, best remembered for his short fiction featuring miners, gamblers and other romantic figures of the California Gold Rush. In a career spanning more than four decades, he wrote poetry, fiction, plays, lectures, book reviews, editorials and magazine sketches in addition to fiction. As he moved from California to the eastern U.S. to Europe, he incorporated new subjects and characters into his stories but his Gold Rush tales have been most often reprinted, adapted and admired.