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II








Born: July 4, 1804 - Salem, Massachusetts
Died: May 19, 1864 - Plymouth, N.H.


Hawthorne grew up in Salem and in Raymond, Maine, on the shores of Sebago Lake. He returned to Salem in 1825 after four years at Bowdoin College. His first work was the amateurish novel Fanshawe, which he published in 1828 at his own expense, only to decide that it was unworthy of him and to try to destroy all copies. He soon found
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Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter
C-SPAN's Video Library: Nathaniel Hawthorne
his own voice, style, and subjects in such impressive and distinctive stories as "The Hollow of the Three Hills" and "An Old Woman's Tale." By 1832, "My Kinsman, Major Molineux" and "Roger Malvin's Burial," two of his greatest tales, had appeared. "Young Goodman Brown," perhaps the greatest tale of witchcraft ever written, appeared in 1835.

Even when his first signed book, Twice-Told Tales, was published in 1837, it brought him little financial reward. By 1842, however, his writing was producing a sufficient income to allow him to marry Sophia Peabody; the couple rented the Old Manse in Concord and began a happy three-year period that he would later record in his essay "The Old Manse." Hawthorne welcomed the companionship of his Transcendentalist neighbors—Emerson, Thoreau, Bronson Alcott—but in general he had little confidence in artists and intellectuals. At the Old Manse, he continued to write stories, with the same result as before: literary success, financial failure. His short-story collection Mosses From an Old Manse, which included such stories as "Rappaccini's Daughter," was published in two volumes in 1846.

A growing family and mounting debts compelled the family's return in 1845 to Salem, where Hawthorne was appointed surveyor of the Custom House. Three years later he lost his job, but in a few months of concentrated effort he produced his masterpiece, The Scarlet Letter (1850), which made him famous and was eventually recognized as one of the greatest American novels.

Works by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Twice-Told Tales (1837)
Mosses from an Old Manse (1846)
The Scarlet Letter (1850)
The House of the Seven Gables (1851)
The Blithedale Romance (1852)
Tanglewood Tales for Girls and Boys (1853)
The Marble Faun (1860)
After moving to Lenox in western Massachusetts, he began work on The House Of The Seven Gables (1851), the story of the Pyncheon family, who for generations had lived under a curse until it was removed at last by love. In 1851 he moved his family to West Newton, and there quickly wrote The Blithedale Romance (1852), based on his disenchantment with Brook Farm, the agricultural cooperative in West Roxbury where he had lived in 1841. His two delightful children's books—A Wonder-Book for Girls and Boys (1851) and Tanglewood Tales for Girls and Boys (1853)—date from this period.

In 1853 he was appointed to the consulship in Liverpool, England, by his old college friend, President Franklin Pierce. He spent most of 1857-58 sightseeing in Italy, an experience that resulted in The Marble Faun (1860). Our Old Home (1863) is based on his experiences in England.

Hawthorne's dark, brooding, richly symbolic works, reflecting his Puritan heritage and contrasting sharply with the optimism of his Transcendentalist neighbors, achieve a depth and power that make them one of the greatest legacies in American literature.

Web sites about Nathaniel Hawthorne
About.com Hawthorne Page
Nathaniel Hawthorne: The Wayside Years
Hawthorne in Salem



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