San Francisco, Bierce read deeply and sought to develop his emerging
talents as a wordsmith
and grammarian. City newspapers began to receive literary submissions
from Bierce, mostly essays and comic sketches, and the San Francisco
News-Letter and California Advertiser was the first to publish his
James Watkins resigned from the News-Letter in
1868, Bierce replaced him as managing editor. Increasingly confident of his mastery of
and literary style, the new editor gladly took over the paper’s
existing column, "The Town Crier." From this literary pulpit,
Bierce savaged the city's hypocrites and political scoundrels. His writing
was characterized by sharp wit, precise language, and moral
certitude. These entertaining columns attracted the attention of readers
beyond San Francisco, and were at times quoted in the newspapers of New
York and even London.
his time at the News-Letter, Bierce met and became familiar with
a wide number of Western journalists and writers, among them Mark
In the late 1860s, Bierce began to experiment with short fiction. He submitted
his earliest work to Western journals such as the Overland Monthly,
edited by the famed Bret Harte. It was there that Bierce placed "The Haunted
Valley," his first short story.
Bierce married Mary Ellen Day on December 25, 1871.