Harte was born in Albany, New York, to a family of little financial
means. His father, Henry Hart, was the son of an immigrant who moved to
America and became rich. However, Bernard left Henry and his mother to
marry another lady. Henry, raised in a Dutch Reformed church, finished
his college education but didn't receive a diploma due to the fact that
he owed a ninety dollar graduation fee. His education was interrupted
many times throughout his early years because the Harts' moved around
quite a bit in order to keep from paying the high cost of tuition. Harte
learned to entertain his readers by giving them what they wanted.
Despite all the works he completed, only a few are remembered. While
serving as clerk and superintendent of the new U.S. mint, he met his
future wife Anna Griswold. They married in August of 1862. The
University of California in Berkeley offered Harte a professor's seat in
recent literature, but he declined in pursuit of being promoted further.
Even magazines and newspapers offered him such positions as editor,
publisher and columnist. Harte continued to write with little public
recognition until his death in 1902.