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Nathaniel Hawthorne


 

Born in Salem, Massachusetts in 1804, Nathaniel Hawthorne descended from Puritan religious leaders and lawmakers who figured prominently in both the persecution of the Quakers and the Salem witch trials.

His father was Captain Nathaniel Hathorne (without the “w”) and he had one sister named Elizabeth. Hawthorne graduated from Bowdin college in Boston in 1925. He then moved back home to Maine where he lived with his mother and published his first book Fanshaw. Later he burned all the copies he could find of that book. He got a job at a custom house to support his family. There, he got lots of information for his novel The Scarlet Letter.

In 1851, Hawthorne became good friends with Herman Melville who was writing Moby Dick at the time. Hawthorne quickly produced two more novels set in New England-The House of Seven Gables (1851) and The Blithedale Romance (1852)-then in 1860, after a stay of three years on England as US Consul to Liverpool followed by and two years in Italy, The Marble Faun; or, The Romance of Monte Beni (1860) was published, his first novel with a European setting.

His powerful connection to the land of his forefathers is evident in much of his fiction, but it is never more powerfully expressed than in The Scarlet Letter, published in 1850. This novel finally brought Hawthorne recognition and financial security as a writer. Hawthorne's circle of friends included many writers of his era whom we still recognize for their powerful influence on American literature, such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Herman Melville.

Hawthorne's work rises out of the great ideas and genre of his era: transcendental thought, the Romance novel, the Gothic novel.

Hawthorne died in 1864 after a long period of illness.

 

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