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Frank Marryat, California Mountains and Molehills, 1855

Observations of an English adventurer in California between 1850-1855.


Americans were not the only persons who traveled to California seeking fortune and fame. This narrative, another in a series provided by the Library of Congress, offers the recollections of a well-to-do British adventurer. Traveling to the area with a manservant and three dogs in 1850, he hoped to find and record whatever his British audience would find exotic or interesting. Researchers will find accounts of horse races, animal hunts, bear and bull fights, and other oddities of Californian society that may help illuminate the larger culture in which their ancestors lived.

Extended Description

Frank Marryat (1826-1855) left England for California via Panama with a manservant and three hunting dogs in 1850, hoping to find material for a book similar to his earlier Borneo travel writings. Upon his return to England in 1853, Marryat married and prepared to return with his new bride to California that same year. Yellow fever, contracted onboard ship, forced him to cut the trip short and return to England where he died two years later. Mountains and molehills, published in 1855, is a sportsman-tourist's chronicle of California in the early 1850s: hunting, horse races, bear and bull fights. It also includes an Englishman's bemused comments on social life in San Francisco, Stockton, and the gold fields.
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