Coolbrith held literary salons at her Russian Hill home which were well attended by America's artistic elite. Coolbrith, Bret Harte (the editor of Overland Monthly), and fellow poet Charles Warren Stoddard became known as the Golden Gate Trinity of the San Francisco literary scene in the 1860s and 1870s (4).
Coolbrith moved to Oakland to take a job at the Oakland Library Association in order to support her mother, her infirm sister, and her sister's children (5). While working there, Coolbrith published her first monograph, A Perfect Day and other Poems, in 1881. It was reviewed well by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who said of the volume, I know that California has at least one poet (6). She is also known to have mentored Jack London, who frequented the Oakland Library as a young man (7).
In the fall of 1892, Coolbrith was let go from the Oakland Library Association (8). Famed naturalist and friend John Muir suggested she pursue the librarianship of San Francisco, but Coolbrith responded, I am disqualified by sex, indicating that San Francisco required its librarian to be a man (9).
Losing the Oakland job gave Coolbrith more time to focus on her poetry. She published a second monograph: 1895's Songs from the Golden Gate, a book made up of new verses she'd published in The Century as well as a reissue of well-received poems from her previous volume.
Coolbrith became the librarian at the San Francisco Mercantile Library Association in 1898, and in 1899 she was invited to act as part-time librarian for the Bohemian Club (10). During this time, she worked on a history of early California literature as well as giving readings and talks on California literary history (11).
Coolbrith's home at 1604 Taylor Street was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake and fire. Though she escaped alive, her personal library of over 3000 volumes, much of her correspondence, and her nearly-finished manuscript on the history of early California literature were lost (12). Coolbrith, by now a pillar of the American literary scene, was the focus of fundraisers by Mark Twain and others, who built her a new home at 1067 Broadway on Russian Hill. Her salons resumed, and her poetry flourished (13). Coolbrith was named Poet Laureate of California in 1911.