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A vibrant literary community exists in San Francisco today, but what was it like to be a writer here 100 years ago? No blogs, no highly publicized readings, no Internet to keep us in the know. You couldn’t catch a cab crosstown in your wildest dreams! Yet San Francisco has long been regarded as one of the literary hotspots of our nation. The economic prosperity of the mid-19th century brought writers from all over the country to experience the freshly paved roads, pioneering spirit and unique brand of culture in the “new” city. One of the literary publications that sought to capture this spirit was Overland Monthly. Founded in 1865 by San Francisco literary renaissance man Brette Harte, the magazine featured stories, literature and art of the New West. By 1912, the periodical had reached the height of its popularity, circulating 75,000 copies, and would continue to publish for another 17 years. Many of the literary heavyweights who resided in San Francisco during this era found their way among its pages—the likes of Jack London, Ambrose Bierce and none other than Mark Twain himself. Combing through 100-year-old issues of this publication—between the advertisements for soap and rooms for rent at St. Francis—an abiding love for this hub of the West can be found between these pages.

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This article was published:
Throwback Issue - Released May 2012
Issue 10 / Version 2 | Buy print copy here
Issue 11
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