I've forgotten everything I ever knew about Mr. Bret Harte, the subject of the sketch in the header, so I looked him up on Wikipedia to revive my memory somewhat. I do remember reading The Outcasts of Poker Flat when I was in high school and enjoyed it, although my mind is telling me that I don't remember anything about the story other than I liked it. And we did have a fairly long look at his life and some of his writings besides the aforementioned story in our class taught by our "Socialist" teacher at the time. I call the teacher "Socialist" because of his ravings about Marx in the class and I didn't understand what he doth talk about until later. It has nothing to do with Mr. Harte.
Harte was born in 1836 and moved to California in 1853 where he received experience in the mining and camping world while working as a miner, teacher, and journalist in the Humboldt Bay area and from which he later wrote his stories, including The Luck of Roaring Camp. Mister Harte married Anna Griswold in 1862 in San Rafael, California and must have had a miserable life with her because she "was impossible to live with" said Henry C. Merwin an early biographer.
In school, I never learned the extent of his writings, which are considerable according to the bibliography on Project Gutenberg, which lists about 65 publications, including his poem written for Charles Dickens, Dickens in Camp. I hereby furnish the first stanza or two below to give you a taste of his poetic ability, which Frederick S. Myrtle says "Bret Hart has been generally accepted as the one American writer who possessed above all others the faculty of what may be called heart appeal, the power to give to his work that quality of human interest which enables the writer and his writings to lie in the memory of the reading public for all time." (From the foreward to the poem.)
"Above the pines the moon was slowly drifting
The river sang below;
The dim Sierras, far beyond, uplifting
Their minarets of snow.
The roaring camp fire, with rude humor, painted
The ruddy tints of health
On haggard face and form that drooped and fainted
In the fierce race for wealth;"
And there you have it, and my thanks to Wikipedia and Project Gutenberg. I will read further of the works as time goes by for inspiration for my own simple writings.