Nathaniel Hawthorne

"Deep as Dante."
-Herman Melville

"N. Hawthorn's [sic] reputation as a writer is a very pleasing fact because his writing is not good for anything, and this is a tribute to the man."
-Emerson, quoted in Hawthorne: A Life by Brenda Wineapple

"It broke her heart and sent her to bed with a grievous headache, which I look upon as a triumphant success."
-Hawthorne, describing his wife Sophia's reaction to the final pages of The Scarlet Letter

Born in Salem, MA, on July 4, 1804, the son of a sea captain and the descendant of a long line of Puritans, Hawthorne grew up sheltered by his overly protective mother and sisters and befriended by books. (Temporary lameness from a leg injury kept him confined to the indoors for several years.) After graduating from Bowdoin College in 1825, he published his first novel anonymously-the unsuccessful Fanshawe-followed by several successful short stories. In 1837, he published Twice-Told Tales under his own name. Fellow Bowdoin classmate Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote a favorable review, but the income from his writing was insufficient to keep Hawthorne afloat, so in 1839 he became a salt and coal measurer at the Boston Custom House.

By 1842, Hawthorne's writing finally began to provide enough of an income to allow him to marry Sophia Peabody, with whom he moved into the "Old Manse" in Concord, MA. Following the births of his first children, he moved the family back to Salem, where, in 1850, he published The Scarlet Letter. The latter's success allowed Hawthorne to devote himself full time to writing, and in 1851, followed by a move to Lenox, MA, he published The House of the Seven Gables. In 1852, the restless Hawthorne moved back to Concord where he took up residence in "The Wayside," Bronson Alcott's (Louisa Alcott's father's) former home, but he didn't stay long. A year later he was appointed U.S. Consul at Liverpool, a position he would hold until 1857. Although he continued to write, few of his later works attained the success of The Scarlet Letter and The House of the Seven Gables. Hawthorne passed away on May 19, 1864 in Plymouth, NH, after a long period of illness in which he suffered severe bouts of dementia. He is buried in Sleepy Hollow cemetery in Concord.

Twice-Told Tales (Modern Library Classics) By Nathaniel Hawthorne, Rosemary Mahoney (Introduction by) Cover Image
By Nathaniel Hawthorne, Rosemary Mahoney (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9780375757884
Availability: Special Order - may be out of print
Published: Modern Library - October 9th, 2001

A Historical Guide to Nathaniel Hawthorne (Historical Guides to American Authors) By Larry J. Reynolds (Editor) Cover Image
By Larry J. Reynolds (Editor)
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ISBN: 9780195124149
Published: Oxford University Press, USA - July 19th, 2001

Contains an excellent illustrated chronology.


The Scarlet Letter (Modern Library Classics) By Nathaniel Hawthorne, Kathryn Harrison (Introduction by) Cover Image
By Nathaniel Hawthorne, Kathryn Harrison (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9780679783381
Availability: usually available in 3-5 business days
Published: Modern Library - September 19th, 2000

The House of the Seven Gables (Modern Library Classics) By Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mary Oliver (Introduction by) Cover Image
By Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mary Oliver (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9780375756870
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Modern Library - January 9th, 2001