Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804 – 1864)
He was born in Salem and was a member of one of the oldest Puritan families
of New England. He was a direct descendent of William Hawthorne who was renowned for his persecution of the Quakers.
William’s son John was involved in the 17th Century witch-hunts.
Nathaniel carried a heavy burden of guilt over his ancestors’ behavior and
this accounts for his vigorous attacks on Puritan societies.
He was a well educated, but solitary child and entered Bowdoin College, Maine in 1821. He graduated in 1825 and during these years lived in Salem and started his writing career. His first work was Fanshawe, which was published in 1828.
In 1836 he moved to Boston where he edited the American Magazine of Useful
and Entertaining Knowledge.
His first major work was Twice-told Tales, which sold over 1,000 copies in
the first twelve months.
He met and fell in love with Sophie Peabody and they married soon after. He was not able to support his family through writing alone, and therefore took the position as surveyor for the district of Salem, and his arrival in the Custom House is documented in the preface to this book. He held this post for ten years, but was dismissed on account of his political views. This marked the start of a period of hardship for the Hawthorne family, but he became an established major writer on the publication of The Scarlet Letter in 1850, and two more romances, The House of Seven Gables in 1851, and The Blithedale in 1852.
He obtained the position of American Consul for Liverpool and Manchester and
the family set sail for England.
He returned to Massachusetts in 1860 where he continued writing until his death in 1864.