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Nathaniel Hawthorne

Nathaniel Hawthorne in the 1860s
Born July 4, 1804(1804-07-04)
Salem, Massachusetts, United States
Died May 19, 1864 (aged 59)
Plymouth, New Hampshire, United States
Occupation Novelist, Short story writer, Custom House worker, United States Consul
Literary movement Dark Romanticism

Nathaniel Hawthorne (born Nathaniel Hathorne; July 4, 1804 – May 19, 1864) was an American novelist and short story writer.

Nathaniel Hathorne was born in 1804, in the city of Salem, Massachusetts to Nathaniel Hathorne and Elizabeth Clarke Manning Hathorne. He later changed his name to "Hawthorne", adding a "w" to dissociate from relatives including John Hathorne, a judge during the Salem Witch Trials. Hawthorne attended Bowdoin College, was elected to Phi Beta Kappa in 1824,[1] and graduated in 1825; his classmates included future president Franklin Pierce and future poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Hawthorne anonymously published his first work, a novel titled Fanshawe, in 1828. He published several short stories in various periodicals which he collected in 1837 as Twice-Told Tales. The next year, he became engaged to Sophia Peabody. He worked at a Custom House and joined Brook Farm, a transcendentalist community, before marrying Peabody in 1842. The couple moved to The Old Manse in Concord, Massachusetts, later moving to Salem, the Berkshires, then to The Wayside in Concord. The Scarlet Letter was published in 1850, followed by a succession of other novels. A political appointment took Hawthorne and family to Europe before their return to The Wayside in 1860. Hawthorne died on May 19, 1864, leaving behind his wife and their three children.

Much of Hawthorne's writing centers around New England, many works featuring moral allegories with a Puritan inspiration. His fiction works are considered part of the Romantic movement and, more specifically, dark romanticism. His themes often center on the inherent evil and sin of humanity, and his works often have moral messages and deep psychological complexity. His published works include novels, short stories, and a biography of his friend Franklin Pierce.

Contents

Biography

Early life

Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1841

Nathaniel Hawthorne was born on July 4, 1804, in Salem, Massachusetts; his birthplace is preserved and open to the public.[2] William Hathorne, the author's great-great-great-grandfather, a Puritan, was the first of the family to emigrate from England, first settling in Dorchester, Massachusetts before moving to Salem. There he became an important member of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and held many political positions including magistrate and judge, becoming infamous for his harsh sentencing.[3] William's son and the author's great-great-grandfather, John Hathorne, was one of the judges who oversaw the Salem Witch Trials. Having learned about this, the author may have added the "w" to his surname in his early twenties, shortly after graduating from college, in an effort to dissociate himself from his notorious forebears.[4] Hawthorne's father, Nathaniel Hathorne, Sr., was a sea captain who died in 1808 of yellow fever in Suriname.[5] After his death, young Nathaniel, his mother and two sisters moved in with maternal relatives, the Mannings, in Salem,[6] where they lived for ten years. During this time, on November 10, 1813, young Hawthorne was hit on the leg while playing "bat and ball"[7] and became lame and bedridden for a year, though several physicians could find nothing wrong with him.[8]

In the summer of 1816, the family lived as boarders with farmers[9] before moving to a home recently built specifically for them by Hawthorne's uncles Richard and Robert Manning in Raymond, Maine, near Sebago Lake.[10] Years later, Hawthorne looked back at his time in Maine fondly: "Those were delightful days, for that part of the country was wild then, with only scattered clearings, and nine tenths of it primeval woods".[11] In 1819, he was sent back to Salem for school and soon complained of homesickness and being too far from his mother and sisters.[12] In spite of his homesickness, for fun, he distributed to his family seven issues of The Spectator in August and September 1820. The homemade newspaper was written by hand and included essays, poems, and news utilizing the young author's developing adolescent humor.[13]

Hawthorne's uncle Robert Manning insisted, despite Hawthorne's protests, that the boy attend college.[14] With the financial support of his uncle, Hawthorne was sent to Bowdoin College in 1821, partly because of family connections in the area, and also because of its relatively inexpensive tuition rate.[15] On the way to Bowdoin, at the stage stop in Portland, Hawthorne met future president Franklin Pierce and the two became fast friends.[14] Once at the school, he also met the future poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, future congressman Jonathan Cilley, and future naval reformer Horatio Bridge.[16] Years after his graduation with the class of 1825, he would describe his college experience to Richard Henry Stoddard:

I was educated (as the phrase is) at Bowdoin College. I was an idle student, negligent of college rules and the Procrustean details of academic life, rather choosing to nurse my own fancies than to dig into Greek roots and be numbered among the learned Thebans.[17]

Early career

In 1836 Hawthorne served as the editor of the American Magazine of Useful and Entertaining Knowledge. During this time he boarded with the poet Thomas Green Fessenden on Hancock Street in Beacon Hill in Boston.[citation needed] He was offered an appointment as weighter and gauger at the Boston Custom House at a salary of $1,500 a year, which he accepted on January 17, 1839.[18] During his time there, he rented a room from George Stillman Hillard, business partner of Charles Sumner.[19] Hawthorne wrote in the comparative obscurity of what he called his "owl's nest" in the family home. As he looked back on this period of his life, he wrote: "I have not lived, but only dreamed about living".[20] He contributed short stories, including "Young Goodman Brown" and "The Minister's Black Veil", to various magazines and annuals, though none drew major attention to the author. Horatio Bridge offered to cover the risk of collecting these stories in the spring of 1837 into one volume, Twice-Told Tales, which made Hawthorne known locally.[21]

Marriage and family

Salem Custom-House where Hawthorne worked

While at Bowdoin, Hawthorne bet his friend Jonathan Cilley a bottle of Madeira wine that Cilley would get married before him.[22] By 1836 he had won the wager, but did not remain a bachelor for life. After public flirtations with local women Mary Silsbee and Elizabeth Peabody,[23] he had begun pursuing the latter's sister, illustrator and transcendentalist Sophia Peabody. Seeking a possible home for himself and Sophia, he joined the transcendentalist Utopian community at Brook Farm in 1841 not because he agreed with the experiment but because it helped him save money to marry Sophia.[24] He paid a $1,000 deposit and was put in charge of shoveling the hill of manure referred to as "the Gold Mine".[25] He left later that year, though his Brook Farm adventure would prove an inspiration for his novel The Blithedale Romance.[26] Hawthorne married Sophia Peabody on July 9, 1842, at a ceremony in the Peabody parlor on West Street in Boston.[27] The couple moved to The Old Manse in Concord, Massachusetts,[28] where they lived for three years. There he wrote most of the tales collected in Mosses from an Old Manse.[29]

Like Hawthorne, Sophia was a reclusive person. Throughout her early life, she had frequent migraines and underwent several experimental medical treatments.[30] She was mostly bedridden until her sister introduced her to Hawthorne, after which her headaches seem to have abated. The Hawthornes enjoyed a long marriage, often taking walks in the park. Of his wife, whom he referred to as his "Dove", Hawthorne wrote that she "is, in the strictest sense, my sole companion; and I need no other—there is no vacancy in my mind, any more than in my heart... Thank God that I suffice for her boundless heart!"[31] Sophia greatly admired her husband's work. In one of her journals, she wrote: "I am always so dazzled and bewildered with the richness, the depth, the ... jewels of beauty in his productions that I am always looking forward to a second reading where I can ponder and muse and fully take in the miraculous wealth of thoughts".[32]

Nathaniel and Sophia Hawthorne had three children. Their first, a daughter, was born March 3, 1844. She was named Una, a reference to The Faerie Queene, to the displeasure of family members.[33] In 1846, their son Julian was born. Hawthorne wrote to his sister Louisa on June 22, 1846, with the news: "A small troglodyte made his appearance here at ten minutes to six o'clock this morning, who claimed to be your nephew".[34] Their final child, Rose, was born in May 1851. Hawthorne called her "my autumnal flower".[35]

Middle years

In April 1846, Hawthorne was officially appointed as the "Surveyor for the District of Salem and Beverly and Inspector of the Revenue for the Port of Salem" at an annual salary of $1,200.[36] He had difficulty writing during this period, as he admitted to Longfellow: "I am trying to resume my pen... Whenever I sit alone, or walk alone, I find myself dreaming about stories, as of old; but these forenoons in the Custom House undo all that the afternoons and evenings have done. I should be happier if I could write".[37] Like his earlier appointment to the custom house in Boston, this employment was vulnerable to the politics of the spoils system. A Democrat, Hawthorne lost this job due to the change of administration in Washington after the presidential election of 1848. Hawthorne wrote a letter of protest to the Boston Daily Advertiser which was attacked by the Whigs and supported by the Democrats, making Hawthorne's dismissal a much-talked about event in New England.[38] Hawthorne was deeply affected by the death of his mother shortly thereafter in late July, calling it, "the darkest hour I ever lived".[39] Hawthorne was appointed the corresponding secretary of the Salem Lyceum in 1848. Guests that came to speak that season included Emerson, Thoreau, Louis Agassiz and Theodore Parker.[40]

Hawthorne returned to writing and published The Scarlet Letter in mid-March 1850,[41] including a preface which refers to his three-year tenure in the Custom House and makes several allusions to local politicians, who did not appreciate their treatment.[42] One of the first mass-produced books in America, it sold 2,500 volumes within ten days and earned Hawthorne $1,500 over 14 years.[43] The book became an immediate best-seller[44] and initiated his most lucrative period as a writer.[43] One of Hawthorne's friends, the critic Edwin Percy Whipple, objected to the novel's "morbid intensity" and its dense psychological details, writing that the book "is therefore apt to become, like Hawthorne, too painfully anatomical in his exhibition of them",[45] though 20th century writer D. H. Lawrence said that there could be no more perfect work of the American imagination than The Scarlet Letter.[46]

Hawthorne and his family moved to a small red farmhouse near Lenox, Massachusetts at the end of March 1850.[47] Hawthorne became friends with Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. and Herman Melville beginning on August 5, 1850, when the authors met at a picnic hosted by a mutual friend.[48] Melville had just read Hawthorne's short story collection Mosses from an Old Manse, and his unsigned review of the collection, titled "Hawthorne and His Mosses", was printed in the Literary World on August 17 and August 24.[49] Melville, who was composing Moby-Dick at the time, wrote that these stories revealed a dark side to Hawthorne, "shrouded in blackness, ten times black".[50] Melville dedicated Moby-Dick (1851) to Hawthorne: "In token of my admiration for his genius, this book is inscribed to Nathaniel Hawthorne."[51]

Hawthorne's time in The Berkshires was very productive.[52] The House of the Seven Gables (1851), which poet and critic James Russell Lowell said was better than The Scarlet Letter and called "the most valuable contribution to New England history that has been made"[53] and The Blithedale Romance (1852), his only work written in the first person,[26] were written here. He also published in 1851 a collection of short stories retelling myths, A Wonder-Book for Girls and Boys, a book he had been thinking about writing since 1846.[54] Though the family enjoyed the scenery of The Berkshires, Hawthorne did not enjoy the winters in their small red house. They left on November 21, 1851.[52]

The Wayside and Europe

In 1852, the Hawthornes returned to Concord. In February, they bought The Hillside, a home previously inhabited by Amos Bronson Alcott and his family, and renamed it The Wayside.[55] Their neighbors in Concord included Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau.[56] That year Hawthorne wrote the campaign biography of his friend Franklin Pierce, depicting him as "a man of peaceful pursuits" in the book The Life of Franklin Pierce.[57] Horace Mann said, "If he makes out Pierce to be a great man or a brave man, it will be the greatest work of fiction he ever wrote".[57] In the biography, Hawthorne left out Pierce's drinking habits despite rumors of his alcoholism[58] and emphasized Pierce's belief that slavery could not "be remedied by human contrivances" but would, over time, "vanish like a dream".[59] With Pierce's election as President, Hawthorne was rewarded in 1853 with the position of United States consul in Liverpool shortly after the publication of Tanglewood Tales.[60] The role, considered the most lucrative foreign service position at the time, was described by Hawthorne's wife as "second in dignity to the Embassy in London".[61] In 1857, his appointment ended at the close of the Pierce administration and the Hawthorne family toured France and Italy. During his time in Italy, the previously clean-shaven Hawthorne grew a bushy mustache.[62]

The family returned to The Wayside in 1860,[63] and that year saw the publication of The Marble Faun, his first new book in seven years.[64]

Later years and death

Grave of Nathaniel Hawthorne

Failing health prevented him from completing several more romances. Suffering from pain in his stomach, Hawthorne insisted on a recuperative trip with his friend Franklin Pierce, though his neighbor Bronson Alcott was concerned Hawthorne was too ill.[65] While on a tour of the White Mountains, Hawthorne died in his sleep on May 19, 1864, in Plymouth, New Hampshire. Pierce sent a telegram to Elizabeth Peabody to inform Hawthorne's wife in person; she was too saddened by the news to handle the funeral arrangements herself.[66] Longfellow wrote a tribute poem to Hawthorne, published in 1866, called "The Bells of Lynn".[67] Hawthorne was buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Concord, Massachusetts. Pallbearers included Longfellow, Emerson, Holmes, Alcott, James Thomas Fields, and Edwin Percy Whipple.[68] Emerson wrote of the funeral: "I thought there was a tragic element in the event, that might be more fully rendered,—in the painful solitude of the man, which, I suppose, could no longer be endured, & he died of it."[69]

After their respective deaths, wife Sophia and daughter Una were originally buried in England. However, in June 2006, they were re-interred in plots adjacent to Hawthorne.[70]

Writings

Statue of Hawthorne in Salem, Massachusetts

Hawthorne had a particularly close relationship with his publishers William Ticknor and James Thomas Fields.[71] Hawthorne once told Fields, "I care more for your good opinion than for that of a host of critics".[72] In fact, it was Fields who convinced Hawthorne to turn The Scarlet Letter into a novel rather than a short story.[73] Ticknor handled many of Hawthorne's personal matters, including the purchase of cigars, overseeing financial accounts, and even purchasing clothes.[74] Ticknor died with Hawthorne at his side in Philadelphia in 1864; Hawthorne was left, according to a friend, "apparently dazed".[75]

Literary style and themes

Hawthorne was predominantly a short story writer in his early career. Upon publishing Twice-Told Tales, however, he noted, "I do not think much of them", and he expected little response from the public.[76] His four major romances were written between 1850 and 1860: The Scarlet Letter (1850), The House of the Seven Gables (1851), The Blithedale Romance (1852) and The Marble Faun (1860). Another novel-length romance, Fanshawe was published anonymously in 1828. Hawthorne defined a romance as being radically different from a novel by not being concerned with the possible or probable course of ordinary experience.[77] Many of his works are inspired by Puritan New England,[78] combining historical romance loaded with symbolism and deep psychological themes, bordering on surrealism.[79]

Hawthorne's works belong to romanticism or, more specifically, dark romanticism,[80] cautionary tales that suggest that guilt, sin, and evil are the most inherent natural qualities of humanity.[81] Many of his tales and novels focus on a type of historical fiction, though Hawthorne's depiction of the past is used only as a vehicle to express themes of ancestral sin, guilt and retribution.[82] His later writings would also reflect his negative view of the Transcendentalism movement.[83]

Hawthorne also wrote nonfiction. In 2008, The Library of America selected Hawthorne's "A Collection of Wax Figures" for inclusion in its two-century retrospective of American True Crime.

Criticism

Edgar Allan Poe wrote important and somewhat unflattering reviews of both Twice-Told Tales and Mosses from an Old Manse. Poe's negative assessment was partly due to his own contempt of allegory and moral tales, and his chronic accusations of plagiarism, though he admitted, "The style of Hawthorne is purity itself. His tone is singularly effective—wild, plaintive, thoughtful, and in full accordance with his themes... We look upon him as one of the few men of indisputable genius to whom our country has as yet given birth".[84] Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote that "Nathaniel Hawthorne's 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".[85] Henry James praised Hawthorne, saying, "The fine thing in Hawthorne is that he cared for the deeper psychology, and that, in his way, he tried to become familiar with it".[86] Poet John Greenleaf Whittier wrote that he admired the "weird and subtle beauty" in Hawthorne's tales.[87] Evert Augustus Duyckinck said of Hawthorne, "Of the American writers destined to live, he is the most original, the one least indebted to foreign models or literary precedents of any kind".[88]

Contemporary response to Hawthorne's work praised his sentimentality and moral purity while more modern evaluations focus on the dark psychological complexity.[89] Beginning in the 1950s, critics have focused on symbolism and didacticism.[90]

Selected works

The Midas myth, from A Wonder-Book for Girls and Boys. Illustration by Walter Crane for the 1893 edition.

Novels

Short story collections

Selected short stories

Notes

  1. ^ Who Belongs To Phi Beta Kappa, ’Phi Beta Kappa website’’, accessed Oct 4, 2009
  2. ^ Haas, Irvin. Historic Homes of American Authors. Washington, DC: The Preservation Press, 1991: 118. ISBN 0891331808.
  3. ^ Miller, 20–21
  4. ^ McFarland, 18
  5. ^ Wineapple, 20–21
  6. ^ McFarland, 17
  7. ^ Miller, 47
  8. ^ Mellow, 18
  9. ^ Mellow, 20
  10. ^ Miller, 50
  11. ^ Mellow, 21
  12. ^ Mellow, 22
  13. ^ Miller, 57
  14. ^ a b Edwards, Herbert. "Nathaniel Hawthorne in Maine", 'Downeast Magazine', 1962
  15. ^ Wineapple, 44–45
  16. ^ Cheever, 99
  17. ^ Miller, 76.
  18. ^ Miller, 169
  19. ^ Mellow, 169
  20. ^ Letter to Longfellow, June 4, 1837.
  21. ^ McFarland, 22–23.
  22. ^ Manning Hawthorne, "Nathaniel Hawthorne at Bowdoin", The New England Quarterly, Vol. 13, No. 2 (Jun., 1940): 246-279.
  23. ^ Cheever, 102
  24. ^ McFarland, 83
  25. ^ Cheever, 104.
  26. ^ a b McFarland, 149
  27. ^ Wineapple, 160
  28. ^ McFarland, 25
  29. ^ Miller, 246–247.
  30. ^ Mellow, 6–7
  31. ^ McFarland, 87
  32. ^ January 14, 1851, Journal of Sophia Hawthorne. Berg Collection NY Public Library.
  33. ^ McFarland, 97.
  34. ^ Mellow, 273.
  35. ^ Miller, 343–344.
  36. ^ Miller, 242
  37. ^ Miller, 265
  38. ^ Cheever, 179
  39. ^ Cheever, 180.
  40. ^ Miller, 264–265.
  41. ^ Miller, 300
  42. ^ Mellow, 316
  43. ^ a b McFarland, 136
  44. ^ Cheever, 181
  45. ^ Miller, 301–302
  46. ^ Miller, 284.
  47. ^ Miller, 274.
  48. ^ Cheever, 174.
  49. ^ Miller, 312.
  50. ^ Mellow, 335
  51. ^ Mellow, 382.
  52. ^ a b Wright, John Hardy. Hawthorne's Haunts in New England. Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2008: 93. ISBN 978-1-59629-425-7
  53. ^ Mellow, 368–369
  54. ^ Miller, 345.
  55. ^ McFarland, 129–130
  56. ^ McFarland, 182
  57. ^ a b Miller, 381
  58. ^ Mellow, 412
  59. ^ Miller, 382–383
  60. ^ McFarland, 186
  61. ^ Mellow, 415
  62. ^ McFarland, 210
  63. ^ McFarland, 206
  64. ^ Mellow, 520
  65. ^ Wineapple, 372
  66. ^ Miller, 518.
  67. ^ Wagenknecht, Edward. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: Portrait of an American Humanist. New York: Oxford University Press, 1966: 9.
  68. ^ Baker, Carlos. Emerson Among the Eccentrics: A Group Portrait. New York: Viking Press, 1996: 448. ISBN 0-670-86675-X.
  69. ^ McFarland, 297
  70. ^ Mishra, Raja and Sally Heaney. "Hawthornes to be reunited", The Boston Globe. June 1, 2006. Accessed July 4, 2008
  71. ^ Madison, Charles A. Irving to Irving: Author-Publisher Relations 1800–1974. New York: R. R. Bowker Company, 1974: 9.
  72. ^ Miller, 281
  73. ^ Charvat, William. Literary Publishing in America: 1790–1850. Amherst, MA: The University of Massachusetts Press, 1993 (first published 1959): 56. ISBN 0-87023-801-9
  74. ^ Madison, Charles A. Irving to Irving: Author-Publisher Relations 1800–1974. New York: R. R. Bowker Company, 1974: 15.
  75. ^ Miller, 513–514
  76. ^ Miller, 104
  77. ^ Porte, 95.
  78. ^ Bell, Michael Davitt. Hawthorne and the Historical Romance of New England. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1980: 173. ISBN 0-691-06136-X
  79. ^ Howe, Daniel Walker. What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815–1848. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007: 633. ISBN 978-0-19-507894-7.
  80. ^ Reynolds, David S. Beneath the American Renaissance: The Subversive Imagination in the Age of Emerson and Melville. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1988: 524. ISBN 0674065654
  81. ^ Wayne, Tiffany K. "Nathaniel Hawthorne", Encyclopedia of Transcendentalism. New York: Facts on File, Inc., 2006: 140. ISBN 0816056269.
  82. ^ Crews, 28–29
  83. ^ Galens, David, ed. Literary Movements for Students, Vol. 1. Detroit: Thompson Gale, 2002: 319. ISBN 0787665177
  84. ^ McFarland, 88–89
  85. ^ Nelson, Randy F. (editor). The Almanac of American Letters. Los Altos, California: William Kaufmann, Inc., 1981: 150. ISBN 086576008X.
  86. ^ Porte, 97
  87. ^ Woodwell, Roland H. John Greenleaf Whittier: A Biography. Haverhill, Massachusetts: Trustees of the John Greenleaf Whittier Homestead, 1985: 293.
  88. ^ McFarland, 88
  89. ^ Person, Leland S. "Bibliographical Essay: Hawthorne and History", collected in A Historical Guide to Nathaniel Hawthorne. Oxford University Press, 2001: 187. ISBN 0195124146.
  90. ^ Crews, 4
  91. ^ Publication info on books from Editor's Note to the The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Page by Page Books, accessed June 11, 2007.

Sources

  • Cheever, Susan (2006). American Bloomsbury: Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau; Their Lives, Their Loves, Their Work. Detroit: Thorndike Press. Large print edition. ISBN 078629521X.
  • Crews, Frederick (1966). The Sins of the Fathers: Hawthorne's Psychological Themes. Berkeley: University of California Press, Reprinted 1989. ISBN 0-520-06817-3.
  • McFarland, Philip (2004). Hawthorne in Concord. New York: Grove Press. ISBN 0802117767.
  • Mellow, James R (1980). Nathaniel Hawthorne in His Times. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. ISBN 0-365-27602-0.
  • Miller, Edwin Haviland (1991). Salem Is My Dwelling Place: A Life of Nathaniel Hawthorne. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press. ISBN 0877453322.
  • Porte, Joel (1969). The Romance in America: Studies in Cooper, Poe, Hawthorne, Melville, and James. Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press.
  • Wineapple, Brenda (2003). Hawthorne: A Life. Random House: New York. ISBN 0-8129-7291-0.

See also

External links

Sites

Works

About Hawthorne


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

The greatest obstacle to being heroic is the doubt whether one may not be going to prove one's self a fool; the truest heroism is, to resist the doubt; and the profoundest wisdom, to know when it ought to be resisted, and when to be obeyed.

Nathaniel Hawthorne (4 July 180419 May 1864) was a 19th-century American novelist and short story writer, best-known today for his many short stories and his romance novels The Scarlet Letter, The House of the Seven Gables, The Blithedale Romance, and The Marble Faun.

Contents

Sourced

It is one of those symbolic scenes, which lead the mind to the sentiment, though not to the conception, of Omnipotence.
Let us forget the other names of American statesmen, that have been stamped upon these hills, but still call the loftiest — WASHINGTON.
Mountains are Earth's undecaying monuments. They must stand while she endures, and never should be consecrated to the mere great men of their own age and country, but to the mighty ones alone, whose glory is universal, and whom all time will render illustrious.
Our Creator would never have made such lovely days, and have given us the deep hearts to enjoy them, above and beyond all thought, unless we were meant to be immortal.
When the Artist rises high enough to achieve the Beautiful, the symbol by which he makes it perceptible to mortal senses becomes of little value in his eyes, while his spirit possesses itself in the enjoyment of the reality.
  • Amid the seeming confusion of our mysterious world, individuals are so nicely adjusted to a system, and systems to one another and to a whole, that, by stepping aside for a moment, a man exposes himself to a fearful risk of losing his place forever.
  • Long, long may it be, ere he comes again! His hour is one of darkness, and adversity, and peril. But should domestic tyranny oppress us, or the invader's step pollute our soil, still may the Gray Champion come, for he is the type of New England's hereditary spirit; and his shadowy march, on the eve of danger, must ever be the pledge, that New England's sons will vindicate their ancestry.
  • By the sympathy of your human hearts for sin ye shall scent out all the places — whether in church, bedchamber, street, field, or forest — where crime has been committed, and shall exult to behold the whole earth one stain of guilt, one mighty blood spot.
  • In old times, the settlers used to be astounded by the inroads of the northern Indians, coming down upon them from this mountain rampart, through some defile known only to themselves. It is indeed a wondrous path. A demon, it might be fancied, or one of the Titans, was travelling up the valley, elbowing the heights carelessly aside as he passed, till at length a great mountain took its stand directly across his intended road. He tarries not for such an obstacle, but rending it asunder, a thousand feet from peak to base, discloses its treasures of hidden minerals, its sunless waters, all the secrets of the mountain's inmost heart, with a mighty fracture of rugged precipices on each side. This is the Notch of the White Hills. Shame on me, that I have attempted to describe it by so mean an image — feeling, as I do, that it is one of those symbolic scenes, which lead the mind to the sentiment, though not to the conception, of Omnipotence.
  • Let us forget the other names of American statesmen, that have been stamped upon these hills, but still call the loftiest — WASHINGTON. Mountains are Earth's undecaying monuments. They must stand while she endures, and never should be consecrated to the mere great men of their own age and country, but to the mighty ones alone, whose glory is universal, and whom all time will render illustrious.
  • As the moral gloom of the world overpowers all systematic gaiety, even so was their home of wild mirth made desolate amid the sad forest.
  • As far as my experience goes, men of genius are fairly gifted with the social qualities; and in this age, there appears to be a fellow-feeling among them, which had not heretofore been developed. As men, they ask nothing better than to be on equal terms with their fellow-men; and as authors, they have thrown aside their proverbial jealousy, and acknowledge a generous brotherhood.
    • "The Hall of Fantasy" (1843)
  • She poured out the liquid music of her voice to quench the thirst of his spirit.
  • "What is the Unpardonable Sin?" asked the lime-burner; and then he shrank farther from his companion, trembling lest his question should be answered. "It is a sin that grew within my own breast," replied Ethan Brand, standing erect with a pride that distinguishes all enthusiasts of his stamp. "A sin that grew nowhere else! The sin of an intellect that triumphed over the sense of brotherhood with man and reverence for God, and sacrificed everything to its own mighty claims!
  • The book, if you would see anything in it, requires to be read in the clear, brown, twilight atmosphere in which it was written; if opened in the sunshine, it is apt to look exceedingly like a volume of blank pages.
In youth men are apt to write more wisely than they really know or feel; and the remainder of life may be not idly spent in realizing and convincing themselves of the wisdom which they uttered long ago.
  • How slowly I have made my way in life! How much is still to be done! How little worth — outwardly speaking — is all that I have achieved! The bubble reputation is as much a bubble in literature as in war, and I should not be one whit the happier if mine were world-wide and time-long than I was when nobody but yourself had faith in me.
    The only sensible ends of literature are, first, the pleasurable toil of writing; second, the gratification of one's family and friends; and, lastly, the solid cash.
  • When the Artist rises high enough to achieve the Beautiful, the symbol by which he makes it perceptible to mortal senses becomes of little value in his eyes, while his spirit possesses itself in the enjoyment of the reality.
  • The greatest obstacle to being heroic is the doubt whether one may not be going to prove one's self a fool; the truest heroism is, to resist the doubt; and the profoundest wisdom, to know when it ought to be resisted, and when to be obeyed.
  • It is because the spirit is inestimable that the lifeless body is so little valued.
    • The Blithedale Romance, Chapter 28
  • In youth men are apt to write more wisely than they really know or feel; and the remainder of life may be not idly spent in realizing and convincing themselves of the wisdom which they uttered long ago.
  • America is now wholly given over to a d--d mob of scribbling women, and I should have no chance of success while the public taste is occupied with their trash — and should be ashamed of myself if I did succeed. What is the mystery of these innumerable editions of the Lamplighter, and other books neither better nor worse? — worse they could not be, and better they need not be, when they sell by 100,000.
Nobody, I think, ought to read poetry, or look at pictures or statues, who cannot find a great deal more in them than the poet or artist has actually expressed.
  • No author, without a trial, can conceive of the difficulty of writing a romance about a country where there is no shadow, no antiquity, no mystery, no picturesque and gloomy wrong, nor anything but a commonplace prosperity, in broad and simple daylight, as is happily the case with my dear native land. It will be very long, I trust, before romance writers may find congenial and easily handled themes, either in the annals of our stalwart republic, or in any characteristic and probable events of our individual lives. Romance and poetry, ivy, lichens and wallflowers need ruin to make them grow.
  • Nobody has any conscience about adding to the improbabilities of a marvelous tale.
    • The Marble Faun, Chapter IV: The Spectre of the Catacomb
  • Nobody, I think, ought to read poetry, or look at pictures or statues, who cannot find a great deal more in them than the poet or artist has actually expressed.
    • The Marble Faun, Chapter XLI: Snowdrops and Maidenly Delights

Notebooks

The American Notebooks (1835 - 1853)

Passages from the American Note-Books of Nathaniel Hawthorne (1868) by Sophia Hawthorne, earlier published in The Atlantic Monthly, vol. 18, no. 110, December 1866
Happiness in this world, when it comes, comes incidentally...
  • Every individual has a place to fill in the world, and is important, in some respect, whether he chooses to be so or not.
    • 1836
  • We sometimes congratulate ourselves at the moment of waking from a troubled dream: it may be so the moment after death.
    • 1836
  • What would a man do, if he were compelled to live always in the sultry heat of society, and could never bathe himself in cool solitude?
    • 1836
  • Moonlight is sculpture; sunlight is painting.
    • 1838
  • I do detest all offices, -- all, at least, that are held on a political tenure. And I want nothing to do with politicians. Their hearts wither away, and die out of their bodies. Their consciences are turned to india-rubber, or to some substance as black as that, and which will stretch as much.
    • 1840
  • Words — so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.
    • 1848
  • Happiness in this world, when it comes, comes incidentally. Make it the object of pursuit, and it leads us a wild-goose chase, and is never attained. Follow some other object, and very possibly we may find that we have caught happiness without dreaming of it.
    • 1851
  • Caresses, expressions of one sort or another, are necessary to the life of the affections as leaves are to the life of a tree. If they are wholly restrained, love will die at the roots.
    • 1853

The English Notebooks (1853 - 1858)

Passages from the English Note-Books of Nathaniel Hawthorne (1870) by Sophia Hawthorne
If mankind were all intellect, they would be continually changing, so that one age would be entirely unlike another. The great conservative is the heart, which remains the same in all ages; so that commonplaces of a thousand years' standing are as effective as ever.
  • Nervous and excitable persons need to talk a great deal, by way of letting off their steam.
    • December 1853
  • If mankind were all intellect, they would be continually changing, so that one age would be entirely unlike another. The great conservative is the heart, which remains the same in all ages; so that commonplaces of a thousand years' standing are as effective as ever.
    • January 1854
  • A woman's chastity consists, like an onion, of a series of coats. You may strip off the outer ones without doing much mischief, perhaps none at all; but you keep taking off one after another, in expectation of coming to the inner nucleus, including the whole value of the matter. It proves, however, that there is no such nucleus, and that chastity is diffused through the whole series of coats, is lessened with the removal of each, and vanishes with the final one which you supposed would introduce you to the hidden pearl.
    • 16 March 1854

The Scarlet Letter (1850)

It contributes greatly towards a man's moral and intellectual health, to be brought into habits of companionship with individuals unlike himself, who care little for his pursuits, and whose sphere and abilities he must go out of himself to appreciate.
My fortune somewhat resembled that of a person who should entertain an idea of committing suicide, and, altogether beyond his hopes, meet with the good hap to be murdered.
My heart was a habitation large enough for many guests, but lonely and chill, and without a household fire. I longed to kindle one! It seemed not so wild a dream.
Let men tremble to win the hand of woman, unless they win along with it the utmost passion of her heart.
  • It contributes greatly towards a man's moral and intellectual health, to be brought into habits of companionship with individuals unlike himself, who care little for his pursuits, and whose sphere and abilities he must go out of himself to appreciate.
    • Introduction: The Custom-House
  • It is a good lesson — though it may often be a hard one — for a man who has dreamed of literary fame, and of making for himself a rank among the world’s dignitaries by such means, to step aside out of the narrow circle in which his claims are recognized, and to find how utterly devoid of all significance, beyond that circle, is all that he achieves, and all he aims at.
    • Introduction: The Custom-House
  • If a man, sitting all alone, cannot dream strange things, and make them look like truth, he need never try to write romances.
    • Introduction: The Custom-House
  • The moment when a man's head drops off is seldom or never, I am inclined to think, precisely the most agreeable of his life. Nevertheless, like the greater part of our misfortunes, even so serious a contingency brings its remedy and consolation with it, if the sufferer will but make the best, rather than the worst, of the accident which has befallen him.
    • Introduction: The Custom-House
  • In view of my previous weariness of office, and vague thoughts of resignation, my fortune somewhat resembled that of a person who should entertain an idea of committing suicide, and, altogether beyond his hopes, meet with the good hap to be murdered.
    • Introduction: The Custom-House
  • The founders of a new colony, whatever Utopia of human virtue and happiness they might originally project, have invariably recognized it among their earliest practical necessities to allot a portion of the virgin soil as a cemetery, and another portion as the site of a prison.
    • Chapter I: The Prison Door
  • On the breast of her gown, in fine red cloth, surrounded with an elaborate embroidery and fantastic flourishes of gold thread, appeared the letter A.
    • Chapter II: The Market-Place
  • In our nature, however, there is a provision, alike marvelous and merciful, that the sufferer should never know the intensity of what he endures by its present torture, but chiefly by the pang that rankles after it.
    • Chapter II: The Market-Place
  • My heart was a habitation large enough for many guests, but lonely and chill, and without a household fire. I longed to kindle one! It seemed not so wild a dream.
    • Chapter IV: The Interview
  • There is a fatality, a feeling so irresistible and inevitable that it has the force of doom, which almost invariably compels human beings to linger around and haunt, ghostlike, the spot where some great and marked event has given the color to their lifetime; and still the more irresistibly, the darker the tinge that saddens it.
    • Chapter V: Hester at Her Needle
  • Wherever there is a heart and an intellect, the diseases of the physical frame are tinged with the peculiarities of these.
    • Chapter IX: The Leech
  • Trusting no man as his friend, he could not recognize his enemy when the latter actually appeared.
    • Chapter X: The Leech and His Patient
  • A pure hand needs no glove to cover it.
    • Chapter XII: The Minister's Vigil
  • Let the black flower blossom as it may!
    • Chapter XIV: Hester and the Physician
  • Let men tremble to win the hand of woman, unless they win along with it the utmost passion of her heart.
    • Chapter XV: Hester and Pearl
Love, whether newly born, or aroused from a deathlike slumber, must always create sunshine, filling the heart so full of radiance, that it overflows upon the outward world.
  • "Never, never!" whispered she. "What we did had a consecration of its own."
    • Chapter XVII: The Pastor and His Parishioner
  • The scarlet letter was her passport into regions where other women dared not tread. Shame, Despair, Solitude! These had been her teachers — stern and wild ones, — and they had made her strong, but taught her much amiss.
    • Chapter XVIII: A Flood of Sunshine
  • Love, whether newly born, or aroused from a deathlike slumber, must always create sunshine, filling the heart so full of radiance, that it overflows upon the outward world.
    • Chapter XVIII: A Flood of Sunshine
  • No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.
    • Chapter XX: The Minister in a Maze
  • Among many morals which press upon us from the poor minister's miserable experience, we put only this into a sentence: — "Be true! Be true! Be true! Show freely to the world, if not your worst, yet some trait whereby the worst may be inferred!"
    • Chapter XIV: Conclusion
  • It is a curious subject of observation and inquiry, whether hatred and love be not the same thing at bottom. Each, in its utmost development, supposes a high degree of intimacy and heart-knowledge; each renders one individual dependent for the food of his affections and spiritual life upon another; each leaves the passionate lover, or the no less passionate hater, forlorn and desolate by the withdrawal of his object.
    • Chapter XIV: Conclusion

The House of the Seven Gables (1851)

The wrongdoing of one generation lives into the successive ones...
The world owes all its onward impulses to men ill at ease. The happy man inevitably confines himself within ancient limits.
  • Many writers lay very great stress upon some definite moral purpose, at which they profess to aim their works. Not to be deficient in this particular, the author has provided himself with a moral, — the truth, namely, that the wrong-doing of one generation lives into the successive ones, and, divesting itself of every temporary advantage, becomes a pure and uncontrollable mischief; and he would feel it a singular gratification if this romance might effectually convince mankind — or, indeed, any one man — of the folly of tumbling down an avalanche of ill-gotten gold, or real estate, on the heads of an unfortunate posterity, thereby to maim and crush them, until the accumulated mass shall be scattered abroad in its original atoms. In good faith, however, he is not sufficiently imaginative to flatter himself with the slightest hope of this kind. When romances do really teach anything, or produce any effective operation, it is usually through a far more subtile process than the ostensible one. The author has considered it hardly worth his while, therefore, relentlessly to impale the story with its moral as with an iron rod, — or, rather, as by sticking a pin through a butterfly, — thus at once depriving it of life, and causing it to stiffen in an ungainly and unnatural attitude. A high truth, indeed, fairly, finely, and skilfully wrought out, brightening at every step, and crowning the final development of a work of fiction, may add an artistic glory, but is never any truer, and seldom any more evident, at the last page than at the first.
    • Preface
  • Halfway down a by-street of one of our New England towns stands a rusty wooden house, with seven acutely peaked gables, facing towards various points of the compass, and a huge, clustered chimney in the midst. The street is Pyncheon Street; the house is the old Pyncheon House; and an elm-tree, of wide circumference, rooted before the door, is familiar to every town-born child by the title of the Pyncheon Elm.
    • Ch. I : The Old Pyncheon Family
  • The aspect of the venerable mansion has always affected me like a human countenance, bearing the traces not merely of outward storm and sunshine, but expressive also, of the long lapse of mortal life, and accompanying vicissitudes that have passed within. Were these to be worthily recounted, they would form a narrative of no small interest and instruction, and possessing, moreover, a certain remarkable unity, which might almost seem the result of artistic arrangement.
    • Ch. I : The Old Pyncheon Family
  • God will give him blood to drink!
    • Ch. I : The Old Pyncheon Family
  • Life is made up of marble and mud.
    • Ch. II : The Little Shop-Window
  • What other dungeon is so dark as one's own heart! What jailer so inexorable as one's self!
    • Ch. XI : The Arched Window
  • The world owes all its onward impulses to men ill at ease. The happy man inevitably confines himself within ancient limits.
    • Ch. XX : The Flower of Eden
  • Of all the events which constitute a person's biography, there is scarcely one — none, certainly, of anything like a similar importance — to which the world so easily reconciles itself as to his death.
    • Ch. XXI : The Departure

Unsourced

  • Happiness is like a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.

Disputed

  • Easy reading is damn hard writing.
    • Also attributed to Ernest Hemingway and others; the earliest definite occurrence of this yet found in research for Wikiquote is by Maya Angelou, who stated it in Conversations With Maya Angelou (1989) edited by Jeffrey M. Elliot:
I think it's Alexander Pope who says, "Easy writing is damn hard reading," and vice versa, easy reading is damn hard writing
The statement she referred to is most probably:
You write with ease, to show your breeding,
But easy writing's curst hard reading

Misattributed

  • Accuracy is the twin brother of honesty; inaccuracy, of dishonesty.
    • "Accuracy is twin brother to honesty, and inaccuracy to dishonesty." — Charles Simmons, Laconic Manual and Brief Remarker, containing over a thousand subjects alphabetically and systematically arranged (1852), p. 20: "Accuracy"
  • All brave men love; for he only is brave who has affections to fight for, whether in the daily battle of life, or in physical contests.
    • William Cowper Prime in The Old House by the River (1853); first misattributed to Hawthorne in Notable Thoughts about Women: A Literary Mosaic (1882) by Maturin Murray Ballou, p. 239
  • Religion and art spring from the same root and are close kin. Economics and art are strangers.
    • Willa Cather, "Four Letters: Escapism" first published in Commonweal (17 April 1936)
  • You can get assent to almost any proposition so long as you are not going to do anything about it.
    • John Jay Chapman, Practical Agitation (1900), ch.7

Quotes about Hawthorne

  • I am always so dazzled and bewildered with the richness, the depth, the ... jewels of beauty in his productions that I am always looking forward to a second reading where I can ponder and muse and fully take in the miraculous wealth of thoughts.
  • Hawthorne's career was probably as tranquil and uneventful a one as ever fell to the lot of a man of letters; it was almost strikingly deficient in incident, in what may be called the dramatic quality. Few men of equal genius and of equal eminence can have led on the whole a simpler life... He produced, in quantity, but little. His works consist of four novels and the fragment of another, five volumes of short tales, a collection of sketches, and a couple of story-books for children. And yet some account of the man and the writer is well worth giving. Whatever may have been Hawthorne's private lot, he has the importance of being the most beautiful and most eminent representative of a literature. The importance of the literature may be questioned, but at any rate, in the field of letters, Hawthorne is the most valuable example of the American genius.
  • There in seclusion and remote from men
    The wizard hand lies cold,
    Which at its topmost speed let fall the pen,
    And left the tale half told.
  • It is curious, how a man may travel along a country road, and yet miss the grandest, or sweetest of prospects, by reason of an intervening hedge, so like all other hedges, as in no way to hint of the wide landscape beyond. So has it been with me concerning the enchanting landscape in the soul of this Hawthorne, this most excellent Man of Mosses.
  • Where Hawthorne is known, he seems to be deemed a pleasant writer, with a pleasant style, — a sequestered, harmless man, from whom any deep and weighty thing would hardly be anticipated: — a man who means no meanings. But there is no man, in whom humor and love, like mountain peaks, soar to such a rapt height, as to receive the irradiations of the upper skies; — there is no man in whom humor and love are developed in that high form called genius; no such man can exist without also possessing, as the indispensable complement of these, a great, deep intellect, which drops down into the universe like a plummet. Or, love and humor are only the eyes, through which such an intellect views this world. The great beauty in such a mind is but the product of its strength.
  • I found that but to glean after this man, is better than to be in at the harvest of others.
  • The truth seems to be, that like many other geniuses, this Man of Mosses takes great delight in hoodwinking the world, — at least, with respect to himself. Personally, I doubt not, that he rather prefers to be generally esteemed but a so-so sort of author; being willing to reserve the thorough and acute appreciation of what he is, to that party most qualified to judge — that is, to himself. Besides, at the bottom of their natures, men like Hawthorne, in many things, deem the plaudits of the public such strong presumptive evidence of mediocrity in the object of them, that it would in some degree render them doubtful of their own powers, did they hear much and vociferous braying concerning them in the public.
  • It is hard to be finite upon an infinite subject, and all subjects are infinite. By some people, this entire scrawl of mine may be esteemed altogether unnecessary, inasmuch, "as years ago" (they may say) "we found out the rich and rare stuff in this Hawthorne, whom you now parade forth, as if only yourself were the discoverer of this Portuguese diamond in our Literature." — But even granting all this; and adding to it, the assumption that the books of Hawthorne have sold by the five-thousand, — what does that signify? — They should be sold by the hundred-thousand, and read by the million; and admired by every one who is capable of Admiration.

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE (1804-1864), American writer, son of Nathaniel Hathorne (1776-1808), was born at Salem, Massachusetts, on the 4th of July 5804. The head of the American branch of the family, William Hathorne of Wilton, Wiltshire, England, emigrated with Winthrop and his company, and arrived at Salem Bay, Mass., on the 12th of June 1630. He had grants of land at Dorchester, where he resided for upwards of six years, when he was persuaded to remove to Salem by the tender of further grants of land there, it being considered a public benefit that he should become an inhabitant of that town. He represented his fellow-townsmen in the legislature, and served them in a military capacity as a captain in the first regular troop organized in Salem, which he led to victory through an Indian campaign in Maine. Originally a determined "Separatist," and opposed to compulsion for conscience, he signalized himself when a magistrate by the active part which he took in the Quaker persecutions of the time (1657-1662), going so far on one occasion as to order the whipping of Anne Coleman and four other Friends through Salem, Boston and Dedham. He died, an old man, in the odour of sanctity, and left a good property to his son John, who inherited his father's capacity and intolerance, and was in turn a legislator, a magistrate, a soldier and a bitter persecutor of witches. Before the death of Justice Hathorne in 1717, the destiny of the family suffered a sea-change, and they began to be noted as mariners. One of these seafaring Hathornes figured in the Revolution as a privateer, who had the good fortune to escape from a British prison-ship; and another, Captain Daniel Hathorne, has left his mark on early American ballad-lore. He too was a privateer, commander of the brig "Fair American," which, cruising off the coast of Portugal, fell in with a British scow laden with troops for General Howe, which scow the bold Hathorne and his valiant crew at once engaged and fought for over an hour, until the vanquished enemy was glad to cut the Yankee grapplings and quickly bear away. The last of the Hathornes with whom we are concerned was a son of this sturdy old privateer, Nathaniel Hathorne. He was born in 1776, and about the beginning of the 19th century married Miss Elizabeth Clarke Manning, a daughter of Richard Manning of Salem, whose ancestors emigrated to America about fifty years after the arrival of William Hathorne. Young Nathaniel took his hereditary place before the mast, passed from the forecastle to the cabin, made voyages to the East and West Indies, Brazil and Africa, and finally died of fever at Surinam, in the spring of 1808. He was the father of three children, the second of whom was the subject of this article. The form of the family name was changed by the latter to "Hawthorne" in his early manhood.

After the death of her husband Mrs Hawthorne removed to the house of her father with her little family of children. Of the boyhood of Nathaniel no particulars have reached us, except that he was fond of taking long walks alone, and that he used to declare to his mother that he would go to sea some time and would never return. Among the books that he is known to have read as a child were Shakespeare, Milton, Pope and Thomson, The Castle of Indolence being an especial favourite. In the autumn of 1818 his mother removed to Raymond, a town in Cumberland county, Maine, where his uncle, Richard Manning, had built a large and ambitious dwelling. Here the lad resumed his solitary walks, exchanging the narrow streets of Salem for the boundless, primeval wilderness, and its sluggish harbour for the fresh bright waters of Sebago lake. He roamed the woods by day, with his gun and rod, and in the moonlight nights of winter skated upon the lake alone till midnight. When he found himself away from home, and wearied with his exercise, he took refuge in a log cabin where half a tree would be burning upon the hearth. He had by this time acquired a taste for writing, that showed itself in a little blank-book, in which he jotted down his woodland adventures and feelings, and which was remarkable for minute observation and nice perception of nature.

After a year's residence at Raymond, Nathaniel returned to Salem in order to prepare for college. He amused himself by publishing a manuscript periodical, which he called the Spectator, and which displayed considerable vivacity and talent. He speculated upon the profession that he would follow, with a sort of prophetic insight into his future. "I do not want to be a doctor and live by men's diseases," he wrote to his mother, "nor a minister to live by their sins, nor a lawyer and live by their quarrels. So I don't see that there is anything left for me but to be an author. How would you like some day to see a whole shelf full of books, written by your son, with ` Hawthorne's Works' printed on their backs ?" Nathaniel entered Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine, in the autumn of 1821, where he became acquainted with two students who were destined to distinction - Henry W. Longfellow and Franklin Pierce. He was an excellent classical scholar, his Latin compositions, even in his freshman year, being remarkable for their elegance, while his Greek (which was less) was good. He made graceful translations from the Roman poets, and wrote several English poems which were creditable to him. After graduation three years later (1825) he returned to Salem, and to a life of isolation. He devoted his mornings to study, his afternoons to writing, and his evenings to long walks along the rocky coast. He was scarcely known by sight to his townsmen, and he held so little communication with the members of his own family that his meals were frequently left at his locked door. He wrote largely, but destroyed many of his manuscripts, his taste was so difficult to please. He thought well enough, however, of one of his compositions to print it anonymously in 1828. A crude melodramatic story, entitled Fanshawe, it was unworthy even of his immature powers, and should never have been rescued from the oblivion which speedily overtook it. The name of Nathaniel Hawthorne finally became known to his countrymen as a writer in The Token, a holiday annual which was commenced in 1828 by Mr S. G. Goodrich (better known as "Peter Parley"), by whom it was conducted for fourteen years. This forgotten publication numbered among its contributors most of the prominent American writers of the time, none of whom appear to have added to their reputation in its pages, except the least popular of all - Hawthorne, who was for years the obscurest man of letters in America, though he gradually made admirers in a quiet way. His first public recognition came from England, where his genius was discovered in 1835 by Henry F. Chorley, one of the editors of the Athenaeum, in which he copied three of Hawthorne's most characteristic papers from The Token. He had but little encouragement to continue in literature, for Mr Goodrich was so much more a publisher than an author that he paid him wretchedly for his contributions, and still more wretchedly for his work upon an American Magazine of Useful and Entertaining Knowledge, which he persuaded him to edit. This author-publisher consented, however, at a later period (1837) to bring out a collection of Hawthorne's writings under the title of Twice-told Tales. A moderate edition was got rid of, but the great body of the reading public ignored the book altogether. It was generously reviewed in the North American Review by his college friend Longfellow, who said it came from the hand of a man of genius, and praised it for the exceeding beauty of its style, which was as clear as running waters.

The want of pecuniary success which had so far attended his authorship led Hawthorne to accept a situation which was tendered him by George Bancroft, the historian, collector of the port of Boston under the Democratic rule of President Van Buren. He was appointed a weigher in the custom-house at a salary of about $1200 a year, and entered upon the duties of his office, which consisted for the most part in measuring coal, salt and other bulky commodities on foreign vessels. It was irksome employment, but faithfully performed for two years, when he was superseded through a change in the national administration. Master of himself once more, he returned to Salem, where he remained until the spring of 1841, when he wrote a collection of children's stories entitled Grandfather's Chair, and joined an industrial association at West Roxbury, Mass. Brook Farm, as it was called, was a social Utopia, composed of a number of advanced thinkers, whose object was so to distribute manual labour as to give its members time for intellectual culture. The scheme worked admirably - on paper; but it was suited neither to the temperament nor the taste of Hawthorne, and after trying it patiently for nearly a year he returned to the everyday life of mankind.

One of Hawthorne's earliest admirers was Miss Sophia Peabody, a lady of Salem, whom he married in the summer of 1842. He made himself a new home in an old manse, at Concord, Mass., situated on historic ground, in sight of an old revolutionary battlefield, and devoted himself diligently to literature. He was known to the few by his Twice-told Tales, and to the many by his papers in the Democratic Review. He published in 1842 a further portion of Grandfather's Chair, and also a second volume of Twice-told Tales. He also edited, during 1845, the African Journals of Horatio Bridge, an officer of the navy, who had been at college with him; and in the following year he published in two volumes a collection of his later writings, under the title of Mosses from an Old Manse. After a residence of nearly four years at Concord, Hawthorne returned to Salem, having been appointed surveyor of the custom-house of that port by a new Democratic administration. He filled the duties of this position until the incoming of the Whig administration again led to his retirement. He seems to have written little during his official term, but, as he had leisure enough and to spare, he read much, and pondered over subjects for future stories. His next work, The Scarlet Letter, which was begun after his removal from the custom-house, was published in 1850. If there had been any doubt of his genius before, it was settled for ever by this powerful romance.

Shortly after the publication of The Scarlet Letter Hawthorne removed from Salem to Lenox, Berkshire, Mass., where he wrote The House of the Seven Gables (1851) and The Wonder-Book (1851). From Lenox he removed to West Newton, near Boston, Mass., where he wrote The Blithedale Romance (1852) and The Snow Image and other Twice-told Tales (1852). In the spring of 1852 he removed back to Concord, where he purchased an old house which he called The Wayside, and where he wrote a Life of Franklin Pierce (1852) and Tanglewood Tales (1853). Mr Pierce was the Democratic candidate for the presidency, and it was only at his urgent solicitation that Hawthorne consented to become his biographer. He declared that he would accept no office in case he were elected, lest it might compromise him; but his friends gave him such weighty reasons for reconsidering his decision that he accepted the consulate at Liverpool, which was understood to be one of the best gifts at the disposal of the president.

Hawthorne departed for Europe in the summer of 1853, and returned to the United States in the summer of 1860. Of the seven years which he passed in Europe five were spent in attending to the duties of his consulate at Liverpool, and in little journeys to Scotland, the Lakes and elsewhere, and the remaining two in France and Italy. They were quiet and uneventful, coloured by observation and reflection, as his note-books show, but productive of only one elaborate work, Transformation, or The Marble Faun, which he sketched out during his residence in Italy, and prepared for the press at Leamington, England, whence it was despatched to America and published in 1860.

Hawthorne took up his abode at The Wayside, not much richer than when he left it, and sat down at his desk once more with a heavy heart. He was surrounded by the throes of a great civil war, and the political party with which he had always acted was tinder a cloud. His friend ex-President Pierce was stigmatized as a traitor, and when Hawthorne dedicated his next book to him - a volume of English impressions entitled Our Old Home (1863) - it was at the risk of his own popularity. His pen was soon to be laid aside for ever; for, with the exception of the unfinished story of Septimius Felton, which was published after his death by his daughter Una (1872), and the fragment of The Dolliver Romance, the beginning of which was published in the Atlantic Monthly in July 1864, he wrote no more. His health gradually declined, his hair grew white as snow, and the once stalwart figure that in early manhood flashed along the airy cliffs and glittering sands sauntered idly on the little hill behind his house. In the beginning of April 1864 he made a short southern tour with his publisher Mr William D.Ticknor, and was benefited by the change of scene until he reached Philadelphia, where he was shocked by the sudden death of Mr Ticknor. He returned to The Wayside, and after a short season of rest joined his friend ex-President Pierce. He died at Plymouth, New Hampshire, on the 19th of May 1864, and five days later was buried at Sleepy Hollow, a beautiful cemetery at Concord, where he used to walk under the pines when he was living at the Old Manse, and where his ashes moulder under a simple stone, inscribed with the single word "Hawthorne." The writings of Hawthorne are marked by subtle imagination, curious power of analysis and exquisite purity of diction. He studied exceptional developments of character, and was fond of exploring secret crypts of emotion. His shorter stories are remarkable for originality and suggestiveness, and his larger ones are as absolute creations as Hamlet or. Undine. Lacking the accomplishment of verse, he was in the highest sense a poet. His work is pervaded by a manly personality, and by an almost feminine delicacy and gentleness. He inherited the gravity of his Puritan ancestors without their superstition, and learned in his solitary meditations a knowledge of the night-side of life which would have filled them with suspicion. A profound anatomist of the heart, he was singularly free from morbidness, and in his darkest speculations concerning evil was robustly right-minded. He worshipped conscience with his intellectual as well as his moral nature; it is supreme in all he wrote. Besides these mental traits, he possessed the literary quality of style - a grace, a charm, a perfection of language which no other American writer ever possessed in the same degree, and which places him among the great masters of English prose.

His Complete Writings (22 vols., Boston, 1901) were edited, with introduction, including a bibliography, by H. S. Scudder. The standard authority for Hawthorne's biography is Nathaniel Hawthorne and his Wife (2 vols., Boston, 1884), by his son Julian Hawthorne (b. 1846), himself a novelist and critic of distinction. See also Henry James, Hawthorne (London, 1879), in the "English Men of Letters" series; Julian Hawthorne, Hawthorne and his Circle (New York, 1903); a paper in R. H. Hutton's Essays Theological and Literary (London, 1871); George B. Smith, Poets and Novelists (London, 1875); Moncure D. Conway, Life of Nathaniel Hawthorne (London, 1890, in the "Great Writers" series); Horatio Bridge, Personal Recollections of Nathaniel Hawthorne (New York, 18 93); Rose Hawthorne Lathrop, Memories of Hawthorne (Boston, 1897); W. C. Lawton, The New England Poets (New York, 1898); Sir L. Stephen, Hours in a Library (1874); Annie Fields, Nathaniel Hawthorne (Boston, 1899); G. E. Woodberry, Life of Hawthorne (1902); and bibliography by N. E. Browne (1905). (R. H. S.)


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Nathaniel Hawthorne (born Nathaniel Hathorne, July 4, 1804 – May 19, 1864) was an American novelist and short story writer. He was born in Salem, Massachusetts. One of the judges of the Salem Witch Trials was named John Hathorne. In order not to be taken as the same family as the judge, he later added a w to his name. John was the great-grandfather of Nathaniel, though. Until about 1830, Nathaniel published under the name Hathorne. One of his best-known stories is The Scarlet Letter, published in 1850.

Many of his works are set in New England, and have a Puritan viewpoint. His fiction works are considered to be part of the Romantic movement and, more specifically, dark romanticism. He often writes about how humanity is evil and sinful. His writings often have moral messages and deep psychological complexity. His published works include novels, short stories, and a biography of his friend Franklin Pierce.


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