was born in Massachusetts, reared in western New York, and graduated from Hamilton College (1851). Determining upon a literary and journalistic career, he made his home in Hartford, Conn., and after 1861 was editor of the Courant, although frequently occupied in other matters. His first mature book, My Summer in a Garden (1870), a series of essays about his farm, possessed the quiet humor and mellow grace of Irving, which also characterized his later essays, ranging from recollections of his childhood to literary criticism and travel sketches.
His first novel, written with his friend Clemens, was The Gilded Age (1873). The original idea has been attributed to Warner, and the character Philip Sterling is considered partly autobiographical, but the book's realism is more attributable to Clemens. Possibly prompted by this investigation of the shoddy Reconstruction era of big finance, Warner forsook the easy, rather shallow character of his essays to write his trilogy of novels on the creation, immoral use, and dissipation of a great fortune: A Little Journey in the World (1889), The Golden House (1894), and That Fortune (1899).