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Nathaniel Hawthorne

Nathaniel Hawthorne

Nathaniel Hawthorne, the son of a sea captain, was born in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1804. His father died of yellow fever four years later. He attended Bowdoin College in Maine but after graduating he returned to Salem where he hoped to establish himself as a writer.

Hawthorne published a novel, Fanshawe, in 1828. He also produced a series of short stories based on historical events. These were eventually collected together and appeared in Twice Told Tales (1837). He also worked as editor of The American Magazine of Useful and Entertaining Knowledge. This included articles about Native Americans including the capture of Hannah Duston.

Hawthorne's books sold poorly and he was forced to find work as the surveyor of the Boston Custom House. He continued to write and in 1850 published the highly successful, The Scarlet Letter.

When Franklin Pierce became president he appointed Hawthorne as US consul in Liverpool. After a four year stay in England he moved to Italy. He also lived for a while in France.

Other books by Hawthorne include The House of the Seven Gables (1851), The Blithedale Romance (1852), The Mable Faun (1860) and Our Old Home (1863).

Nathaniel Hawthorne died in 1864. After his death his wife edited and published his notebooks, Passages from the American Notebooks (1868), Passages from the English Notebooks (1870) Passages from the French and Italian Notebooks (1871).

Goodman Duston and his wife, somewhat less than a century and a half ago, dwelt in Haverhill, at that time a small frontier settlement in the province of Massachusetts Bay. They had already added seven children to the King's liege subjects in America; and Mrs. Duston about a week before the period of our narrative, had blessed her husband with an eighth. One day in March, 1698, when Mr. Duston had gone forth about his ordinary business, there fell out an event, which had nearly left him a childless man, and a widower besides. An Indian war party, after traversing the trackless forest all the way from Canada, broke in upon their remote and defenceless town. Goodman Duston heard the war whoop and alarm, and, being on horseback, immediately set off full speed to look after the safety of his family. As he dashed along, he beheld dark wreaths of smoke eddying from the roofs of several dwellings near the road side; while the groans of dying men, - the shrieks of affrighted women, and the screams of children, pierced his ear, all mingled with the horrid yell of the raging savages. The poor man trembled yet spurred on so much the faster, dreading that he should find his own cottage in a blaze, his wife murdered in her bed, and his little ones tossed into the flames. But, drawing near the door, he saw his seven elder children, of all ages between two years and seventeen, issuing out together, and running down the road to meet him. The rather only bade them make the best of their way to the nearest garrison, and, without a moment's pause, flung himself from his horse, and rushed into Mrs. Duston's bedchamber.

The good woman, as we have before hinted, had lately added an eighth to the seven former proofs of her conjugal affection; and she now lay with the infant in her arms, and her nurse, the widow Mary Neff, watching by her bedside. Such was Mrs. Duston's helpless state, when her pale and breathless husband burst into the chamber, bidding her instantly to rise and flee for her life. Scarcely were the words out of his mouth, when the Indian yell was heard: and staring wildly out of the window, Goodman Duston saw that the blood-thirsty foe was close at hand. At this terrible instant, it appears that the thought of his children's danger rushed so powerfully upon his heart, that he quite forgot the still more perilous situation of his wife; or, as is not improbable, he had such knowledge of the good lady's character, as afforded him a comfortable hope that she would hold her own, even in a contest with a whole tribe of Indians. However that might be, he seized his gun and rushed out of doors again, meaning to gallop after his seven children, and snatch up one of them in his flight, lest his whole race and generation should be blotted from the earth, in that fatal hour. With this idea, he rode up behind them, swift as the wind. They had, by this time, got about forty rods from the house, all pressing forward in a group; and though the younger children tripped and stumbled, yet the elder ones were not prevailed upon, by the fear of death, to take to their heels and leave these poor little souls to perish. Hearing the tramp of hoofs in their rear, they looked round, and espying Goodman Duston, all suddenly stopped. The little ones stretched out their arms; while the elder boys and girls, as it were, resigned their charge into his hands; and all the seven children seemed to say. 'Here is our father! Now we are safe!'


Biography of Nathaniel Hawthorne

Nathaniel Hawthorne was one of the most admired American authors of the 19th century, and his reputation has endured to the present day. His novels, including The Scarlet Letter and The House of the Seven Gables, are widely read in schools.

A native of Salem, Massachusetts, Hawthorne often incorporated the history of New England, and some lore related to his own ancestors, into his writings. And by focusing on themes such as corruption and hypocrisy he dealt with serious issues in his fiction.

Often struggling to survive financially, Hawthorne worked at various times as a government clerk, and during the election of 1852 he wrote a campaign biography for a college friend, Franklin Pierce. During Pierce's presidency Hawthorne secured a posting in Europe, working for the State Department.

Another college friend was Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. And Hawthorne was also friendly with other prominent writers, including Ralph Waldo Emerson and Herman Melville. While writing Moby Dick, Melville felt the influence of Hawthorne so profoundly that he changed his approach and eventually dedicated the novel to him.

When he died in 1864, the New York Times described him as "the most charming of American novelists, and one of the foremost descriptive writers in the language."


A Short Biography of Nathaniel Hawthorne

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Early Life

Nathaniel Hawthorne was born on 4 th July 1804 in Salem, Massachusetts. The life of Hawthorne was submerged in the legacy of Puritan. His ancestor, William Hathorne, immigrated to America for the first time from England in 1630 and settled in Salem, Massachusetts. William Hathorne became a judge in New England and was greatly known for his harsh statements. John Hawthorne, the son of William Hawthorne was also one of the three judges of Salem Witch trials during the 1690s. To distance himself from his family, Nathaniel Hawthorne added the letter “w” to his name.

Hawthorne was the only son of his parents. His father, Nathaniel Hathorne, was a sea captain and died from yellow in 1808 in the sea. Nathaniel Hawthorne and his mother, Elizabeth Clark Hathorne, shifted to live with Elizabeth’s wealthy brothers due to their poor financial conditions. Hawthorne received a leg injury at a young age, due to which he was immobile for many months. During that time, Hawthorne established his interest in reading and envisioned becoming a writer.

From 1821 to 1825, Hawthorne attended Bowdoin College with the aid of his wealthy uncles. It was in this college that Hawthorne met his friends Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Franklin Pierce, the future President of America. He himself admitted for being a negligent student who did not have any interest in studies.

Short Stories and Collections

In school, Hawthorne terribly missed his mother and two sisters. Once he graduated, he went to stay with his family for 12 years. During those twelve years, he started writing on purpose and self-published his stories. Among these stories, “An Old Woman’s tale” and “the Hollow of the Three Hills” were also included. Till 1832, he had published his two greatest tales “Roger Malvin’s Burial,” and “My Kinsman, Major Molineux.” He published “Twice-Told Tales” in 1837. His writings brought him a little dishonor however, he could earn much money from it.

Budding Success and Marriage

The self-imposed seclusion at home that Hawthorne inflicted upon himself ended. At the same time, he met a painter, illustrator and transcendentalist Sophia Peabody. Hawthorne spent little time at the Book Farm community during courtship. During that time, he met Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson. He did not show much interest in transcendentalism, however, living in the Book Farm community allowed him to save money to marry Sophia. The couple married on 9 th July 1842, after the long wait and poor health of Sophia. The couple settled in Concord, Massachusetts. In 1884, they had their first child.

Hawthorne shifted to Salem due to increasing debt and developing family. In 1846, he got a job as a surveyor in the custom house in Salem with the help of his life-long Democrat and political connections. This job made him provide the necessary financial support. However, Hawthorne lost his job due to political favoritism when Zachary Taylor was elected as President. The dismal was a blessing in disguise as it gave him time to write a masterpiece novel, The Scarlet Letter . The story is about two lovers who rebelled against the moral law of Puritans. The novel was published in bulk and became one of the first mass-production in the United States. This novel made Hawthorne widely famous.

Other Books

In Salem, Hawthorne was not comfortable. He was determined to take out his family from the trappings of Puritan’s town. Hawthorne, with his family, shifted to Red House in Lenox, Massachusetts. In Lenox, he befriended Herman Melville and Moby Dick. It was a productive period of his life, which he enjoyed greatly. He published novels such as Blithedale Romance, The House of the Seven Gables , and Tanglewood Tales.

Years Abroad

In the election of 1852, Hawthorne published a campaign biography for Pierce, his college friend. Pierce was elected as President and appointed Hawthorne as an American Consul to Britain on personal favor. From 1853 to 1857, Hawthorne lived in England. During this period, he wrote the novel Our Old Home.

Hawthorne went to Italy on a family tour after serving as a consul and then went back to England. He finished his last novel, The Marble Faun, in 1860. Hawthorne, with his family, permanently shifted back to the United States in the same year. They started living at The Wayside in Concord, Massachusetts.

Last Years

In his late years, it was getting difficult for Hawthorne to keep pace with his earlier productivity. His late year’s works hardly found any success. He could not write coherently and left his drafts incomplete. His health started deteriorating, and age factors started appearing. He denied taking any mental health, and on 19 th May 1864, he died in his sleep.


The 1858 visit of Nathaniel Hawthorne to the Villa Ludovisi, illustrated

The Boncompagni Ludovisi family’s own photographic album (late 1880s-early 1890s) of their sculptural collection. Collection of HSH Prince Nicolò and HSH Princess Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi, Rome.

In January 1858, after four years of service as US Consul in Liverpool, American writer Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) came to Rome with his wife and three children. He spent almost a year and a half in Italy, into May 1859, with visits to Siena and Florence. In his journals he recorded from what was essentially a tourist’s vantage point many exquisitely detailed impressions of the country and its cultural riches. The chief literary expression of this Italian experience was Hawthorne’s 1860 work The Marble Faun, the last of his four great romances, which he mostly wrote after leaving the Continent for England.

The journals include Hawthorne’s account of a family visit to the Villa Ludovisi (quoted in full below), on 26 March 1858, some two months after their arrival in Rome. Here one can sense early glimpses of a melancholic view of the Eternal City that soon became much more pronounced after his eldest daughter, Una, then aged about 18, suffered a serious attack of the notorious strain of malaria known as “Roman fever”.

His daughter’s near-death experience obviously colored Hawthorne’s perception of the city. “I bitterly detest Rome,” Hawthorne wrote to his friend the publisher James Thomas Fields on 3 February 1859 (i.e., not quite a year after the visit to the Villa Ludovisi), “and shall rejoice to bid it farewell forever and I fully acquiesce in all the mischief and ruin that has happened to it, from Nero’s conflagration downward. In fact, I wish the very site had been obliterated before I saw it.”

Unused entrance ticket to the Boncompagni Ludovisi museum collection (1890s). Collection of HSH Prince Nicolò and HSH Princess Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi, Rome.

Hawthorne says that the ticket that secured his family’s entry came directly from the “Prince of Piombini”, i.e., Antonio Boncompagni Ludovisi (1808-1883), who became Prince of Piombino (VII) on the death of his father Luigi (born 1767) in 1841. A written application directly to the Prince Boncompagni Ludovisi was indeed the standard mode of applying for a visit to the Villa Ludovisi for the whole latter half of the 19th century. One notes that the children of Nathaniel and Sophia Hawthorne at the time of the visit were aged 18 (Una, 1844-1877), eleven (Julian, 1846-1934), and not quite seven (Rose, 1851-1926). So even rather young children could gain admission to the Villa and its Museum.

On the day of their appointment—which happens to have been a Friday—Hawthorne and his family entered through the main gate on the Via Friuli, and managed to see the “Casino delle Statue” which housed the most famous sculptural works of the Museo Ludovisi, and then apparently wandered quite freely around the extensive grounds. Finally, the family, along with a small group of other visitors, entered the Casino Aurora—perhaps by special pleading, for it was then “under repair”. (Indeed, a major expansion of the Casino Aurora was just then in its final stages.) At the Casino, Hawthorne managed to see Guercino’s “Aurora” fresco (but apparently not the “Fama” on the floor above it), climb the famed spiral staircase that practically all visitors note, and ascend to the Casino’s upper story terrace with its spectacular view of the city and beyond.

Significantly, Hawthorne says nothing of the Palazzo Grande, which will have been the main residence of the Boncompagni Ludovisi family at this time. Evidently it was not accessible to visitors in this era.

The Palazzo Grande of the Villa Ludovisi (at left), from the vantage point of what approximates today’s Via Boncompagni in Rome (between Via Marche and Via Lucullo). Photographed by Ignazio Boncompagni Ludovisi in 1885, just before the re-development of the Villa. Collection of HSH Prince Nicolò and HSH Princess Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi, Rome.

Hawthorne did not intend for the journal entries from his family’s Italian sojourn to be published. It was his wife, Sophia Peabody Hawthorne (1809-1871), who in winter 1870-1871 transcribed what was soon issued as the Passages from the French and Italian Note-books of Nathaniel Hawthorne. The London firm of Strahan & Co. first published this work in two volumes in autumn 1871, after Sophia’s death in February of that year.

At the point when the Hawthorne family visited the Villa Ludovisi, the head of the Boncompagni Ludovisi family—Antonio Boncompagni Ludovisi, and his wife Guglielmina Massimo (1811-1899)—had five surviving children, ranging from age 26 (Rodolfo, born 1832) to age four (Lavinia, born 1854). A son Livio just the previous summer, in August 1857, a month before his sixteenth birthday a daughter Filomena had died in infancy in 1836. In 1885 their second eldest son, Ignazio Boncompagni Ludovisi (1845-1913), was responsible for the photographic campaign that resulted in the images of the Villa Ludovisi seen throughout this post. Photographs of the sculptures are from an album in the family’s private collection (cover shown above).

Here is that entry from 26 March 1858:

“Yesterday, between twelve and one, our whole family went to the Villa Ludovisi, the entrance to which is at the termination of a street which passes out of the Piazza Barberini, and it is no very great distance from our own street, Via Porta Pinciana.”

Main gate of the Villa Ludovisi (as it appeared in 1885) at the “bend” of the Via Friuli (today, inside the US Embassy compound). Collection of HSH Prince Nicolò and HSH Princess Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi, Rome.

“The grounds, though very extensive, are wholly within the walls of the city, which skirt them, and comprise a part of what were formerly the gardens of Sallust.”

Map of Rome (detail, showing the Villa Ludovisi), from P. Benoist, Rome dans sa grandeur (Paris 1870)

“The villa is now the property of Prince Piombini, a ticket from whom procured us admission. A little within the gateway, to the right, is a casino, containing two large rooms filled with sculpture, much of which is very valuable.”

The Casino Capponi (= “Casino delle Statue”) as it appeared in 1885. Today the site is occupied by an auto maintenance garage for the US Embassy. Collection of HSH Prince Nicolò and HSH Princess Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi, Rome.

“A colossal head of Juno, I believe, is considered the greatest treasure of the collection, but I did not myself feel it to be so, nor indeed did I receive any strong impression of its excellence.”

Acquired by Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi (1595-1632), the “Juno Ludovisi” is now in the Museo Nazionale Romano at the Palazzo Altemps. Goethe, for one, admired this colossal head so much that he made his own cast. Collection of HSH Prince Nicolò and HSH Princess Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi, Rome.

“I admired nothing so much, I think, as the face of Penelope (if it be her face), in the group supposed also to represent Electra and Orestes.”

It was Johann Joachim Winckelmann (1717-1768) who first identified these figures as Electra recognizing her brother Orestes Hawthorne seems to opt for a tradition that they represent Penelope and her son Telemachus. Already listed in the Villa Ludovisi inventory of 1623, today the sculptural group is exhibited in the Palazzo Altemps. Collection of HSH Prince Nicolò and HSH Princess Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi, Rome.

“The sitting statue of Mars is very fine…”

The Ares Ludovisi, now in the Palazzo Altemps. Winckelmann called this sculpture “the most beautiful Mars from antiquity”. His shield, hands, and feet, and the head, arms and feet of the small Eros at his right leg saw restorations by Bernini in 1622. Collection of HSH Prince Nicolò and HSH Princess Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi, Rome.

“…so is the Aria and Paetus so are many other busts and figures.”

The sculpture which Hawthorne calls the “Ar(r)ia and Paetus”, and today (housed in the Palazzo Altemps) is now known as the Suicidal Gaul and his ‘Wife’, first appears in the Villa Ludovisi inventories for 1623. It is likely that Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi discovered it in developing the Roman-era Gardens of Sallust for his newly-purchased Villa. Collection of HSH Prince Nicolò and HSH Princess Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi, Rome.

“By-and-by we left the casino and wandered among the grounds, threading interminable alleys of cypress, through the long vistas of which we could see here and there a statue, an urn, a pillar, a temple, or garden-house, or a bas-relief against the wall.”

Villa Ludovisi (1885): colossal head of Alexander the Great, embedded in the Aurelian Walls. The sculpture is still visible today on the Via Campania (just east of the intersection with Via Veneto), though the modern street is several meters lower than the path in this image. Collection of HSH Prince Nicolò and HSH Princess Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi, Rome.

“It seems as if there must have been a time and not so very long ago when it was worth while to spend money and thought upon the ornamentation of grounds in the neighbourhood of Rome. That time is past, however, and the result is very melancholy for great beauty has been produced, but it can be enjoyed in its perfection only at the peril of one’s life. . . For my part, and judging from my own experience, I suspect that the Roman atmosphere, never wholesome, is always more or less poisonous.”

“We came to another and larger casino remote from the gateway, in which the Prince resides during two months of the year.”

Grand entrance to the Casino Aurora (as it appeared in 1885). Collection of HSH Prince Nicolò and HSH Princess Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi, Rome.

“It was now under repair, but we gained admission, as did several other visitors, and saw in the entrance-hall the Aurora of Guercino, painted in fresco on the ceiling.”

Detail from Guercino’s great ceiling fresco on the piano terra of the Casino Aurora, where the figure of the Dawn is robed in the Ludovisi colors of red and gold. Collection of HSH Prince Nicolò and HSH Princess Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi, Rome.

“There is beauty in the design but the painter certainly was most unhappy in his black shadows, and in the work before us they give the impression of a cloudy and lowering morning, which is likely enough to turn to rain by-and-by.”

Detail (the figure of “Night”) from Guercino’s Aurora fresco. Collection of HSH Prince Nicolò and HSH Princess Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi, Rome.

“After viewing the fresco we mounted by a spiral staircase to a lofty terrace, and found Rome at our feet, and, far off, the Sabine and Alban mountains, some of them still capped with snow. In another direction there was a vast plain, on the horizon of which, could our eyes have reached to its verge, we might perhaps have seen the Mediterranean Sea.”

View from the terrace of the Casino Aurora (1885), looking SW toward the College of S. Isidore. Collection of HSH Prince Nicolò and HSH Princess Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi, Rome.

“After enjoying the view and the warm sunshine, we descended, and went in quest of the gardens of Sallust, but found no satisfactory remains of them.”

“One of the most striking objects in the first casino [i.e., the Casino delle Statue] was a group by Bernini,—Pluto, an outrageously masculine and strenuous figure, heavily bearded, ravishing away a little, tender Proserpine, whom he holds aloft, while his forcible gripe impresses itself into her soft, virgin flesh. It is very disagreeable, but it makes one feel that Bernini was a man of great ability.”

Bernini’s Rape of Prosperpina (1621/1622), a Ludovisi then Boncompagni Ludovisi possession from 1622 until 1908, when the Italian state purchased it for exhibition in the Galleria Borghese. Photo from collection of HSH Prince Nicolò and HSH Princess Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi, Rome.

“There are some works in literature that bear an analogy to his works in sculpture when great power is lavished a little outside of nature, and therefore proves to be only a fashion, and not permanently adapted to the tastes of mankind.”


Writing the novels

Facing the world once more, Hawthorne obtained in 1846 the position of surveyor (one who maps out new lands) in the Salem Custom House, but was relieved of this position in 1848 because of his political ties. His dismissal, however, turned out to be a blessing, since it gave him time in which to write his greatest success, The Scarlet Letter.

The period 1850 to 1853 was Hawthorne's most productive, as he wrote The House of the Seven Gables and The Blithedale Romance, along with A Wonder Book (1852) and Tanglewood Tales (1853). During 1850 the Hawthornes lived at the Red House in Lenox in the Berkshire Hills, and Hawthorne formed a memorable friendship with novelist Herman Melville (1819�). The association was more important to Melville than to Hawthorne, since Melville was fifteen years younger and the much more impressionable (easily influenced) of the two men. It left its mark in dedication of his Moby-Dick, and in some wonderful letters.


Nathaniel Hawthorne Birthplace

The Nathaniel Hawthorne Birthplace was originally located on Union Street. It was purchased by The House of the Seven Gables Settlement Association and moved to the museum campus in 1958 under the guidance of Abbott Lowell Cummings, a noted architectural historian and conservator. Unlike the high-style Georgian features in The House of the Seven Gables, the Hawthorne Birthplace is a modest example of this style.

This house is special due to the event that occurred on July 4, 1804. Nathaniel Hawthorne, the famed American novelist, was born here on that day to Elizabeth Clarke Manning and Nathaniel Hathorne. Hawthorne’s parents had grown up as neighbors and were married much to the chagrin of his paternal grandparents. He was born, according to his older sister Elizabeth, “in the chamber over that little parlor into which we looked, in that house on Union St. It then belonged to my grandmother Hawthorne, who lived in one part of it. There we lived until 1808, when my father died, at Surinam. I remember very well that one morning my mother called my brother into her room, next to the one where we slept, and told him that his father was dead.”

After the death of her husband, Elizabeth Clarke Manning Hathorne returned to her parents’ home with her three children, a move not uncommon for widows during this period.


Nathaniel Hawthorne

At age 9, Hawthorne injured his leg and was confined to the home for two years. It was during this time that he developed a love of books and reading. At age 14, the family left Salem for Raymond, Maine, but Hawthorne would return just one year later to begin his preparation for college entrance. In 1821, he was admitted to Bowdoin College. His classmates included Franklin Pierce and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. He graduated in 1825 and moved back to Salem. It is then that he starts to visit his cousin Susanna at the Turner-Ingersoll Mansion, which would later be the backdrop for his famed novel, The House of the Seven Gables.

Hawthorne worked a number of jobs while also focusing on publishing his early works. In 1828, his first novel, Fanshawe was published anonymously at his own expense. He later recalled the book and dramatically burned the copies. Nearly 10 years later, Twice-Told Tales was published.

In 1837, he would meet his future wife Sophia Amelia Peabody. Sophia and her sisters, Elizabeth and Mary, would prove to be influential for the rest of Hawthorne’s life and career. In 1839, he received his first political appointment as a “weigher and gauger” at the Boston Custom House. During this time he also published The Gentle Boy and Grandfather’s Chair.

Hawthorne was influenced by the growing popularity of Transcendentalism. In 1841, he joined Brook Farm in West Roxbury and in 1842 moved into the Old Manse in Concord with Sophia. His friends and neighbors included Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Thoreau, Margaret Fuller, and Bronson Alcott.

By 1846, the Hawthorne family was living back in Salem with Una (1844) and Julian (1846). Hawthorne is appointed a surveyor at the Salem Custom House. It was during this time that he would begin to write The Scarlet Letter—his first critically acclaimed success in publishing.

After the book’s publication in 1850, the Hawthorne family would leave Salem once again for Lenox, Mass. It is here that his relationship with Herman Melville would blossom. While living in Lenox, Hawthorne wrote A Wonder Book for Girls and Boys as well as the famed Gothic novel, The House of the Seven Gables.

Nathaniel and Sophia welcomed their final child, Rose in 1851. In 1852, The Blithedale Romance, which focused on his days at Brook Farm, was published as well as a presidential biography for his longtime friend, Franklin Pierce. Hawthorne’s literary success affords him the opportunity to purchase the Alcotts’ house in Concord which he renames “The Wayside.”

In 1853, Hawthorne was appointed the American Consul to England. He lived in Liverpool for four years and kept a journal related to his travels and observations in England. When his appointment was complete, he toured Italy. His reflections on these travels were published in his fictional work, The Marble Faun. Around the time of publication, the Hawthorne family returned to The Wayside.

Hawthorne continued to write into his later years, including a report about his 1862 visit to Washington D.C. in which he met President Lincoln and visited the Civil War Battlefields in Virginia. His final publication was Our Old Home (1863) which was a series of essays about England and Anglo-American relations. In 1864, Hawthorne traveled to New Hampshire with President Franklin Pierce. He died on May 19 and is buried at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Concord, MA.

You can also follow the Nathaniel Hawthorne Society. The Nathaniel Hawthorne Society is dedicated to the global study and appreciation of the life and works of Hawthorne.


Nathaniel Hawthorne

Wrote Nathaniel Hawthorne, while a student at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine in 1821, to his mother in Salem, Massachusetts, declaring that he did not want to study to be a minister, lawyer, or physician.


Hawthorne's Early Writings

Hawthorne published his first collection of short stories, Twice-Told Tales, in 1837.

In 1842, he married Sophia Peabody and moved to Concord, Massachusetts, where they rented the Old Manse adjacent to the historic North Bridge. In 1846, Hawthorne's second collection of short stories, Mosses from an Old Manse, was published while they were living in Boston.

By year's end, Hawthorne returned to Salem where he began working at the U.S. Custom House. Hawthorne's most famous work, The Scarlet Letter, was written during his time living in Salem, and was published in 1850.

The family moved that year to Lenox, Massachusetts, where he wrote his next novel, The House of the Seven Gables, published in 1851.

Hawthorne bought The Wayside in 1852, and set up household with his wife Sophia and their three children Una, Julian, and Rose. His third novel, The Blithedale Romance, was published a month after he moved in.

During the years in which Hawthorne owned The Wayside, the nation fragmented over the issue of slavery. A private person, Hawthorne would most likely have preferred to remain a non-participant in the angry debates, but his location and circle of acquaintances made this impossible.

He was closely associated with men and women on different sides of the issue - from his abolitionist neighbors, the Alcotts, Emersons, and Thoreaus, and his sisters-in-law, Elizabeth Peabody and Mary Mann to his college classmate and close friend, Franklin Pierce, Pierce, a northern Democrat, who viewed the abolitionist movement as a fundamental threat to the unity of the nation.

In 1852, Hawthorne completed Tanglewood Tales and a campaign biography for Franklin Pierce, who was a candidate for U.S. President. After Pierce's election, Hawthorne was appointed U.S. Consul to Liverpool in 1853, and for the next seven years he and his family lived in the U.K. and Europe. Hawthorne completed his last novel, The Marble Faun, in England in 1859.

The Wayside, 1860-64: Sophia and Nathaniel Hawthorne after additions to their house Returning to The Wayside

Upon his return to Concord in 1860, Hawthorne made some major additions to The Wayside, including a three story tower with his study or "sky parlor" at the top.


Civil War Years

After the Civil War began, Hawthorne, deeply troubled by the conflict, travelled to Washington, D.C., where he met President Abraham Lincoln, and toured battlefields in Virginia. When he returned to The Wayside, he shared his observations in an article entitled, "Chiefly About War Matters" that appeared in the Atlantic Monthly in July, 1862.

In September, 1863, with his health in decline, Nathaniel Hawthorne completed his last published work, Our Old Home. Three novels, The Dolliver Romance, Doctor Grimshawe's Secret, and Septimius Felton remained unfinished at the time of his death on May 19, 1864.


History

Lenox was slow to be settled. It was 1750 before Jonathan Hinsdale and others arrived. His daughter Rhoda was the first child born in Lenox, still called Yokuntown at that time.

Lenox held its first town meeting in 1767. It was a town of farmers, traders, merchants and innkeepers. Lenox participated actively in the Revolutionary War. In 1774 Colonel Paterson already represented Lenox before the Royal Governor of Massachusetts. As Brigadier General he helped lead the way to victory in 1776.

It was 1761 when Berkshire County was incorporated and received its own court system based in Great Barrington. During the war the courts were adjourned and resumed after the war under the new state Constitution. Centrally located Lenox was chosen as the new site in 1784. A courthouse and a jail were built and functioned from 1787. For 81 years Lenox was the county seat. When court was in session this small town grew in importance and sophistication. The Court and the Old Red Inn (now the Curtis) made the center of Lenox a bustling place full of activity. As the Shiretown Lenox’s population and business grew. There was need for a new larger meeting house. Church on the Hill was completed by 1806. At that time church and state were not yet divided, a man had to be a member of the “established” church to vote.

It was 1770 before a schoolmaster was hired. But by 1803 the Lenox Academy was established by local citizens and provided excellent high school education under the legendary Mr. Hotchkin (taught 1823-47) which attracted students from long distances and made Lenox known far beyond the immediate community. Mrs. Charles Sedgwick in her “school for young ladies” educated girls from New York and Boston, for almost half a century. Her husband, Charles Sedgwick, the Clerk of courts was a member of the large Sedgwick family from Stockbridge and New York. His charming family attracted their many friends to Lenox. At the same time train travel made Lenox much more accessible and suddenly Lenox was “discovered” by famous and wealthy residents of Boston and New York in the mid 1800s who were reminded of the beauty of Switzerland by the views, fields and forests of the Berkshire Hills.

Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote “The House of Seven Gables” while living in a little red cottage just outside of town. The cottage is actually in Stockbridge, but Hawthorne walked two miles daily to the Lenox post office to get his mail. Hawthorne’s series of children’s stories, “Tanglewood Tales,” were inspired by the name of the neighboring estate. Herman Melville, Fanny Kemble and so many others found their way to Lenox.

George Inness was encouraged by Vent Fort owner Ogden Haggerty to paint the Berkshire countryside.

Hawthorne’s cottage was rebuilt and is used for practice rooms by Tanglewood in the summer. In 1845, Samuel Gray Ward, the Boston banker who later was to finance the U.S. purchase of Alaska, built a summer home near Hawthorne’s cottage. Ward told his friends back in Boston about the beautiful Berkshire countryside and the mild summer weather. Soon, many of them were joining him as summer, or even year-round residents. By the late 1800s, Lenox and Stockbridge were booming as the summer homes of many of the country’s elite. The peak building years in Lenox were from the1880’s to 1920’s. Houses came and went as styles superseded each other and increasing wealth generated larger and larger mansions on the most prominent peaks. They were called cottages, in some way they invoked the more informal country life that they loved in Lenox in contrast to the increasing formality of New York, Boston and Newport. The most magnificent of them all was Shadowbrook, built for railroad baron Anson Phelps Stokes on 900 acres at the edge of Lenox and Stockbridge. For a short time, until George Vanderbilt’s Biltmore, it was one of the largest homes in North America. Andrew Carnegie later bought the house, and died there in 1919. It became a Jesuit Novitiate and unfortunately burned in 1956. Kripalu Yoga center now occupies the site.

The Gilded Age ended in the early twentieth century after WWI, the income tax, the stock market crash, working opportunities in industry that made servants very scarce and so many other reasons, made it impossible for the “cottagers” to maintain their huge summer homes in the Berkshires. Several of the cottages were converted to hotels, health centers and schools.

Two gilded age cottages in Lenox are open for public tours: Ventfort Hall, the 1893 Morgan summer home and The Mount, the 1902 cottage, built by novelist Edith Wharton. Both have undergone considerable restoration to bring them back to their former grandeur and continue to do so. Also in Lenox Shakespeare and Company and The Scenic Railway add to the multilayered cultural atmosphere that began so long ago.

A new era for Lenox and the Berkshires began in the 1930s, when music lovers began sponsoring symphonic concerts in the summer months. In 1937, the Boston Symphony Orchestra began offering concerts at its new summer home, the “Tanglewood” estate between Lenox and Stockbridge. A year later, the orchestra inaugurated its huge new concert hall, the “Shed.” In the succeeding decades, Tanglewood has become famous as one of the world’s leading music festivals, attracting more than 300,000 listeners each summer. Many other summer arts festivals, featuring theater, music and dance, have joined in making the Berkshires the summer cultural capital of the Northeast United States.


Nathaniel Hawthorne, tradition and revolution

This is an analysis of the fiction of Nathaniel Hawthorne and his perception of history. Charles Swann examines the whole of Hawthorne's literary career and gives proper weight to the unfinished work. Hawthorne saw history as a struggle between the authoritative claims of tradition on the one hand and the conflicting but equally valid claims of the desires for revolutionary transformation on the other. To evaluate Hawthorne's view of history, Swann provides close readings of such key shorter works as "Alice Doane's Appeal" and "Main Street," as well as the most detailed analysis to date of the unfinished works The American Claimant Manuscripts and The Elixir of Life Manuscripts (two works which exemplify the temptations of tradition and the exhilaration of the revolutionary moment). This study asks us to explore how Hawthorn presents and interprets history of crucial sins of the past (and the contemporary placing of such sins) in "Alice Doane's Appeal," the problematic nature of the American Revolution in The Elixir of Life Manuscripts, and the role of society in The Scarlet Letter. Swann's study will be of interest to students and scholars of American literature, history, cultural studies and literary criticism

Includes bibliographical references (pages 260-279) and index

Tradition and revolution -- An experimental fiction : "Alice Doane's appeal or, How (not) to tell a story" -- Sketches experimental and ideal : "Ethan Brand" and "Main Street" -- The scarlet letter and the language of history -- The house of the seven gables : Hawthorne's modern novel of 1848 -- The Blithedale romance : translation and transformation, mime and mimesis -- The American claimant manuscripts, or, the absence of an ending -- The marble faun, or, the ambivalencies and ambiguities -- The elixir of life manuscripts : "Had we but world enough and time."

This is an analysis of the fiction of Nathaniel Hawthorne and his perception of history. Charles Swann examines the whole of Hawthorne's literary career and gives proper weight to the unfinished work. Hawthorne saw history as a struggle between the authoritative claims of tradition on the one hand and the conflicting but equally valid claims of the desires for revolutionary transformation on the other. To evaluate Hawthorne's view of history, Swann provides close readings of such key shorter works as "Alice Doane's Appeal" and "Main Street," as well as the most detailed analysis to date of the unfinished works The American Claimant Manuscripts and The Elixir of Life Manuscripts (two works which exemplify the temptations of tradition and the exhilaration of the revolutionary moment). This study asks us to explore how Hawthorn presents and interprets history of crucial sins of the past (and the contemporary placing of such sins) in "Alice Doane's Appeal," the problematic nature of the American Revolution in The Elixir of Life Manuscripts, and the role of society in The Scarlet Letter. Swann's study will be of interest to students and scholars of American literature, history, cultural studies and literary criticism

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Watch the video: Video SparkNotes: Nathaniel Hawthornes The Scarlet Letter summary (December 2021).