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local colour

noun
1.
the characteristic features or atmosphere of a place or time
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Encyclopedia Article for local colour

style of writing derived from the presentation of the features and peculiarities of a particular locality and its inhabitants. The name is given especially to a kind of American literature that in its most characteristic form made its appearance just after the Civil War and for nearly three decades was the single most popular form of American literature, fulfilling a newly awakened public interest in distant parts of the country and, for some, providing a nostalgic memory of times gone by. It concerned itself mainly with depicting the character of a particular region, concentrating especially upon the peculiarities of dialect, manners, folklore, and landscape that distinguish the area. The frontier novels of James Fenimore Cooper have been cited as precursors of the local colour story, as have the New York Dutch tales of Washington Irving. The California Gold Rush provided a vivid and exciting background for the stories of Bret Harte, whose The Luck of Roaring Camp (1868), with its use of miners' dialect, colourful characters, and Western background, is among the early local colour stories.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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