Bret Harte (1836-1902) was an author and poet known especially for his stories of the California Gold Rush. Born in New York, he moved to California at the age of 17–in the heart of the Gold Rush–and worked as a messenger, miner, teacher and eventually a journalist in the area that is now Humboldt County.
After he reported, with great disgust, on the 1860 massacre of Wiyot native people near Eureka, his life was threatened and he fled the Humboldt area, landing in San Francisco where he became a literary magazine contributor and later editor. He married Anna Griswold in San Rafael in 1862 and lived and wrote in the area before returning to the East Coast in 1871. While in San Rafael, he wrote his famous story “The Luck of Roaring Camp,” published in The Overland Monthly in 1868.
Harte never returned to California after 1871, instead becoming a diplomat in Germany and Scotland, and then retiring to write in London from 1885 to his death in 1902.
“A bird in the hand is a certainty, but a bird in the bush may sing.”