"Deep as Dante."
"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.
Contains an excellent illustrated chronology.