Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in Salem, Massachusetts on July 4th, 1804. He authored many books and short stories throughout his life, including The Scarlet Letter (1850), “Young Goodman Brown” (1835), and The House of the Seven Gables (1851).
- After marrying Sophia Peabody, Hawthorne wrote to his sister, saying: “We are as happy as people can be, without making themselves ridiculous, and might be even happier; but, as a matter of taste, we choose to stop short at this point.“
- Hawthorne wrote The Scarlet Letter directly after the first women’s rights convention in New York in 1848. He was one of the first American writers to depict “women’s rights, women’s work, women in relation to men, and social change,” according to biographer Brenda Wineapple.
- Though Hawthorne lost his father at an early age, “with the aid of his wealthy uncles, young Hawthorne attended Bowdoin College from 1821 to 1825“; there, he “befriended Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and future president Franklin Pierce.” (Pierce is also the one who discovered Hawthorne dead in 1864, while they were traveling together to New Hampshire’s White Mountains.)
- Hawthorne’s youngest daughter, Rose, was nominated for sainthood in 2003. She “initially pursued a literary career like her father” but, “following the death of her 5-year-old boy and her husband, she moved into a tenement in an impoverished New York City neighborhood and began nursing incurable cancer patients.“
- “Hawthorne called his writing ‘romance,’ which he defined as a method of showing ‘the depths of our common nature.’ To Hawthorne, romance meant confronting reality, rather than evading it.“
Great Quotes from Hawthorne’s Works:
- “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.” — The Scarlet Letter
- “She had not known the weight until she felt the freedom.” — The Scarlet Letter
- “Shall we never, never get rid of this Past? … It lies upon the Present like a giant’s dead body.” — The House of the Seven Gables
- “On he flew among the black pines, brandishing his staff with frenzied gestures, now giving vent to an inspiration of horrid blasphemy, and now shouting forth such laughter as set all the echoes of the forest laughing like demons around him. The fiend in his own shape is less hideous than when he rages in the breast of man.” — “Young Goodman Brown”
- “[W]ith her whole spirit she prayed that, for a single moment, she might satisfy his highest and deepest conception. Longer than one moment she well knew it could not be; for his spirit was ever on the march, ever ascending . . . [requiring] something that was beyond the scope of the instant before.” — “The Birthmark”
- “When the friend shows his inmost heart to his friend; the lover to his best-beloved; when man does not vainly shrink from the eye of his Creator, loathsomely treasuring up the secret of his sin; then deem me a monster, for the symbol beneath which I have lived, and die! I look around me, and, lo! on every visage a black veil!” — “The Minister’s Black Veil”