Harte, a native of Albany, New York, had lived in California for seventeen years before he left the West forever in early February 1871. As editor of and chief contributor to the Overland Monthly since its founding in July 1868, he had "startled the Academists on the Atlantic Coast," as Kate Chopin later averred,' with a remarkable series of stories set in the mining camps and boom towns of California during the Gold Rush, including "The Luck of Roaring Camp," "The Outcasts of Poker Flat," and "Tennessee's Partner." His poem "Plain Language from Truthful James," more popularly known as "The Heathen Chinee," had appeared in the Overland for September 1870 and literally made him a household name from coast to coast. Between June and November 1871, newly arrived from San Francisco and at the height of his literary fame and fortune, the author, Bret Harte, lived in a fashionable villa in Newport while he tried to reshape his reputation and change the course of his career. Perhaps the most popular and certainly the best-paid writer in America during the months he resided here, Harte chose Newport to be the site of his reinvention from western local-colorist to eastern man of letters. Inevitably, given the nature of Harte's early success, the Newport experiment ended in failure.
""How Genuinely Unaffected a Man He Was": Bret Harte in Newport,"
Newport History: Vol. 69
, Article 2.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.salve.edu/newporthistory/vol69/iss238/2