Bret Harte (Francis Brett Harte) (härt), 1836–1902, American writer of short stories and humorous verse, b. Albany, N.Y. At 19 he went to California, where he tried his hand at teaching, clerking, and mining. In 1868 he helped establish the Overland Monthly, where his short stories and verse first appeared. He gained enormous success with the publication of
"The Luck of Roaring Camp,"
the first of his picturesque stories of Western local color, and with such later stories as
"The Outcasts of Poker Flat"
"Brown of Calaveras."
Although Harte did not develop character and motivation, he had an observant eye and a brisk reportorial style. He was U.S. consul in Germany and Scotland from 1878 to 1885. The remainder of his life was spent near London.
See his letters, ed. by G. B. Harte (1926); biographies by R. O'Connor (1966) and A. Nissen (2000); M. Duckett, Mark Twain and Bret Harte (1964).