Francis Bret Harte (August 25, 1836 – May 6, 1902) was an American author and poet, best remembered for his accounts of pioneering life in California.
He was born in Albany, New York, on August 25, 1836. He was named Francis Brett Hart after his great-grandfather Francis Brett. When he was young his father changed the spelling of the family name from Hart to Harte. Later, Francis preferred to be known by his middle name, but he spelled it with only one "t", becoming Bret Harte.
An avid reader as a boy, Harte published his first work at age 11, a satirical poem titled "Autumn Musings," now lost. His formal schooling ended when he was 13 in 1849. He moved to California in 1853, later working there in a number of capacities, including miner, teacher, messenger, and journalist. He spent part of his life in the northern California coastal town of Union (now known as Arcata), a settlement on Humboldt Bay that was established as a provisioning center for mining camps in the interior.