Around 1864 Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, left Nevada after working for a Virginia City newspaper, the Territorial Enterprise and came to San Francisco to work for a variety of newspapers. The PBS website says the following in their New Perspectives on the West series:
The experience of filing daily reports on the picturesque doings in a Nevada mining town helped Clemens sharpen and broaden his abilities as a writer. After two years, he carried those talents to San Francisco, where he wrote for a variety of newspapers and periodicals, among them The Californian, edited by Bret Harte. Though they were to quarrel later, at this time Clemens and Harte shared a common ambition, and the more experienced Harte proved a valuable guide as Clemens tried to work the comic artifice out of his humor and develop a more natural, conversational style. With “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” published in 1865 by The Saturday Press of New York, and reprinted by newspapers across the country, this style made its first appearance, a style readers would soon come to recognize as the voice of Mark Twain. Clemens left San Francisco in 1866…
Of all the characters that have lived in our city, Mark Twain surely was one of the most colorful. A quote most often falsely attributed to him is, “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” Though it’s a great line, and can be true when the fog makes a visit, SNOPES has documented that Mr. Clemens did not say this.
- Mick Orton
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