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Ugly adjectives fly in the attached essay concerning the sour relationship that developed between two American writers Mark Twain (1835-1910) and Bret Harte (1836 - 1902). The two men were quite close during their younger days as San Francisco journalists, and so strong was the bond between them that the two agreed to collaborate on a play, which they titled, "Ah, Sin" (1877). However, Twain insisted that it was notoriety that killed his friend and "it might have been better ...if Harte had died in the first flush of his fame":

"There was a happy Bret Harte, a contented Bret Harte, an ambitious Bret Harte, a bright, cheerful, easy-laughing Bret Harte to whom it was a bubbling effervescent joy to be alive. That Bret Harte died in San Francisco. It was the corpse of that Bret Harte that swept in splendor across the continent..."

The historian Henry Steele Commager chose to rank Mark Twain at number 4 insofar as his impact on the American mind was concerned - click here to understand his reasoning...

       *Watch an Edison Film Clip of Mark Twain*


Mark Twain's Unkind Portrait of Bret Harte (Current Opinion, 1922)

Mark Twain's Unkind Portrait of Bret Harte (Current Opinion, 1922)

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