Lawrence Berkove

Samuel Post Davis

Samuel Post Davis was one of the most talented, versatile, popular, and politically active of the late nineteenth century group of Nevada writers known informally as the Sagebrush School.

Sagebrush School

The main contribution to American literature from Nevada's mining frontier, 1859 to 1914, was the writing of the Sagebrush School. It was a major contribution, more important than other, better-known regional movements. Like New England's transcendentalism, the Sagebrush School was a loose, somewhat informal association of writers. In this case it refers to authors who either lived and worked in Nevada or spent formative years there during its mining booms.

Nineteenth-Century Nevada Drama

In Nevada's nineteenth-century towns and mining camps, the demand for entertainment was almost entirely filled by traveling theatrical troupes. Thinly settled and distant from major population centers, the state took well over a century to develop the sort of sophisticated stage culture necessary to incubate its own professional playwrights and theater companies. During this period, few theatrical backers would risk a production by any American playwright, let alone an unknown local one, when audiences were likely to prefer a more fashionable foreign play.

Mark Twain

Samuel Langhorne Clemens was born in 1835 in Florida, Missouri, and raised there in the eastern part of the state. His schooling was minimal; he was essentially self-taught. As a teenager, he worked for local newspapers, and then for printing shops in Cincinnati and other eastern cities. In 1857, now twenty-one, Sam persuaded Horace Bixby, a Mississippi River steamboat pilot, to accept him as an apprentice. Sam sailed up and down the Mississippi first as an apprentice, then as a full-fledged pilot until the advent of the Civil War, when hostilities closed the river to civilian traffic.

William Wright, aka Dan De Quille

Most who knew William Wright, a colleague of Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) on Virginia City’s Territorial Enterprise, believed that of the two, Wright was the most likely to succeed. Instead, Twain went on to achieve immediate national and international fame while Wright, nineteenth-century Nevada’s most important literary figure, slipped into obscurity until recently.

Alfred Doten

Born in Plymouth, Massachusetts, Alfred Doten (1829-1903) sailed to California in 1849 to make his fortune in placer gold mining. Unsuccessful, he moved to Nevada in 1863 to participate in the silver boom but gravitated instead to journalism. He worked as a reporter on the Nevada newspapers: the Como Sentinel, the Virginia Daily Union, the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise, and ultimately the Gold Hill Daily News.

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