Harris, George Washington

Harris, George Washington (Sugartail, pen name)

(1814–69) journalist, humorist; born in Pittsburgh, Pa. Raised from age four in Tennessee, he had little formal schooling but was apprenticed to a jeweler; showing mechanical ability, he wrote articles for the Scientific American. He took up writing political pieces in 1839; starting in 1843, and using the pen name "Sugartail," he began to contribute humorous "sporting" sketches to Spirit of the Times, published in New York City. In the years that followed, he held several jobs—running a foundry and glass factory, steamboat captain, railroad engineer—and drawing on his varied experiences, he wrote his one published work, Sut Lovingood Yarns (1867), a genially boisterous series of tales about a typical Tennessee countryboy of the time. Although hardly high art, they are regarded as a precursor of the work of Mark Twain and others in the American colloquial vein.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.