I have been reading an old book about the Sacramento River and California history — The Sacramento, by Julian Dana. It was part of the Rivers of America series and published in 1939. The book has some entertaining stories, but it is dated and leaves much to be desired in the way of footnotes and bibliography.
Along the way the author mentions the very first novel written in California. Entewa, The Mountain Bird: A Romance of California, Founded on Fact, written by Dr. J.R. Poynter and published in Marysville in 1852.
Well! that sounds intriguing. The first novel published in California — I’d like to see that book!
Good luck with that. It is an exceedingly rare item. It has never been digitized by Google Books. The California State Library and the Bancroft Library do not own copies, let alone my local state college library. The public library in Marysville does not have it. It does exist on microfilm, and according to WorldCat, a few universities have copies of the microfilm. The original (and possibly the only extant copy) is in the Beinecke Library at Yale University.
As best I can tell, it is about life in the diggings and among the California Indians. Perhaps it features a handsome young forty-niner and a fair Indian maiden.
I wish I could tell you more. If I ever track it down, I will. Don’t you think someone ought to reprint it?
THAT is a book that needs reprinting! Yale, get on this!
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