The Sagebrush School was a literary movement that came out of Nevada’s mining frontier in the 1860s and lasted into the early twentieth century—its most illustrious representative being Mark Twain. Another important writer from the group was Dan De Quille, best known for his writings on the Comstock Lode. Author and historian Lawrence Berkove, today a guest blogger, gives rich details about De Quille and the Sagebrush School below.
Now, you can collect some of this witty and irreverent writing with our summer sale!
Buy Before The Big Bonanza and receive The Sagebrush Anthology in paperback, FREE!
Just follow this link http://bit.ly/1Tx3BPj (and type in the quantities).
The Big Bonanza (1876) by Dan De Quille (the pen name of William Wright) remains the classic contemporary account of the development of the Comstock Lode, the fabulously rich combination of silver ore and gold in western Nevada. But because of pressures he could not resist to emphasize the positive, he pulled his punches and did not deliver a fully honest story. Before The Big Bonanza remedies those shortcomings in rich and fascinating details for the earliest years 1860-63. Inasmuch as no other journalistic record of those years has survived, this collection of newspaper correspondence is a particularly valuable gathering of the primary sources for the later book by the author himself just as De Quille was making a name for himself as the most important and respected writer of the Comstock Lode. Before The Big Bonanza additionally supplies new and important biographical information about the travels of De Quille and his experiments in style that made him along with Mark Twain, Bret Harte, and Ambrose Bierce, one of the Old West’s four leading authors.
The columns that comprise Before The Big Bonanza were recovered from the archives of newspapers in Iowa and California and represent De Quille at his freest and when he abundantly supplies reliable information available nowhere else. Here he unconstrainedly details the turbulences and the bad as well as the good in the context of his frank amazement of how, in only four years’ time, a remote wilderness was transformed into one of the world’s most technologically advanced mining enterprises and an orderly functioning city of almost 25,000. This just-published book is therefore a precursor, companion, and partial corrective of The Big Bonanza that will complement the collections of libraries and owners of the later book.
The paired bonus, The Sagebrush Anthology, is a related recovery of another and perhaps more enduring feature of Comstock culture, the hitherto overlooked literary movement known as the Sagebrush School. The high wages that prevailed on the Comstock attracted not only miners and investors but also some of the best journalistic and literary talent in the United States. Everyone knows the most famous graduate of the Sagebrush School, Mark Twain, and its most accomplished pupil, Ambrose Bierce. The literature of most of its other members, however, such as Dan De Quille and Sam Davis, was almost forgotten until this collection re-discovered it and made available once more some of its most accomplished works of humor and short fiction whose range, variety, and quality will surprise and delight all readers.
—Lawrence I. Berkove