HARTE, BRET

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HARTE, BRET - Bret Harte Fine Literary Letter Written While U.S. Consul in Glasgow
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HARTE, BRET - Bret Harte Fine Literary Letter Written While U.S. Consul in Glasgow

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“It will hardly be possible for me to leave Glasgow in time to attend the Rabelais dinner”

 

HARTE, BRET. (1836-1902). American writer who memorialized the California Gold Rush in his short fiction. ALS. (“Bret Harte”). 2½pp.. 8vo. Glasgow, March 13, 1884. On his U. S. Consulate stationery. To “Pollock,” likely ALEXANDER POLLOCK WATT (1838-1914), Bret Harte’s literary agent in London and founder of A. P. Watt, the world’s first literary agency.

 

“I find today that it will hardly be possible for me to leave Glasgow in time to attend the Rabelais dinner on the 16th. You know, better than any one, how disappointed I am not to be present at this particular dinner, but you, better than any one, can ‘expert’ [?] the subject we were to discuss at that time. I can only repeat my regret that this dinner was arranged for so early a date and wish I could have had an opportunity of consulting with you about it before. Express my regret to Mr. Josh [?], whom I have again missed at dinner! I am glad Mr. Balfour [probably the Scottish merchant and philanthropist, Alexander Balfour 1824-1886] has become one of us. I have to thank you for the pleasure of meeting him at our last dinner…”

 

After abandoning his education at age 13, Harte moved to California to work as a miner, Wells Fargo messenger, teacher, and journalist. In 1860, employed by the Northern Californian, he reported and condemned the Wiyot massacre in Humboldt County, in which settlers murdered native people. The ensuing threats to his life forced him to relocate to San Francisco where he became editor of the newspaper The Golden Era, founding editor of the literary newspaper The Californian and editor of the Overland Monthly, which published his famous story “The Luck of Roaring Camp” about a child born in a gold prospecting camp, that was widely read after receiving praise from Mark Twain. Harte’s popularity eventually waned and he pursued a diplomatic career, first in Germany and, beginning in 1880, in Glasgow, where he penned our letter. He remained in Europe for the last 24 years of his life.

 

Our letter concerns a “Rabelais dinner” doubtlessly held in honor of French humanist writer and satirist François Rabelais (circa 1483/1494-1553) best known for his series The Life of Gargantua and of Pantagruel and whose work inspired the term “Rabelaisian,” to describe a bawdy event.  

 

Written on a folded sheet and in overall very fine condition; former mounting traces on blank page.

 

 

Item #20287


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