Nathaniel Hawthorne (Note: given surname was Hathorne) was born on the 4th of July 1804, in Salem, Massachusetts. His parents were Nathaniel Hathorne, a sea captain, and Elizabeth Clarke Manning, from an aristocratic background. William Hathorne was Nathaniel’s great-great-great-great-grandfather, a puritan and an author. The Hawthorne family stayed at Salem for four years. In 1808, after the death of his father, Elizabeth, the widow stayed with her relatives where they spent ten years of their life.
Nathaniel Hawthorne stayed with his uncle after his father’s death, who assisted him in his educational pursuits. First, he was admitted to a local school in Salem, and later, in 1921, he attended Bowdoin College in Maine, where he stayed until 1925 and tried to master the art of writing. During his stay at college, Nathaniel met various distinguished figures including Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, a future poet, Jonathan Cilley, future congressman, and Horatio Bridge, a future naval reformer. All these figures played a pivotal role in his life. After his graduation, he returned to Salem with an intent to become a writer and wrote his first novel, Fanshawe, which he published independently.
While at Bowdoin, he met and developed a lifelong relationship with Sophia Peabody, a transcendentalist and illustrator. The couple tied the knot on the 9th of July in 1842. Soon after their marriage, they moved to Massachusetts and lived there for three years. They led a prosperous life as Hawthorne referred his beloved wife as his “Dove” and soul partner. Sophie also acknowledged the literary efforts of her husband in her journals.
Some Important Facts of His Life
- In 1841, Nathaniel Hawthorne became the founding member of a Utopia.
- After completing his writing, Tanglewood Tales”, he served as an American diplomat and did not publish any major work during that time.
- After graduation, Nathaniel Hawthorne intentionally locked himself in an attic for a decade to master the writing skills.
- He died in his sleep on the 19th of May in 1864 in Plymouth, New Hampshire.
Nathaniel Hawthorne stands among the leading figures of American history who started his literary career at a young age and enjoyed fame during his lifetime. After graduation, his first novel made a public appearance. Later he worked as an editor of an American magazine. However, the real transformation came during his stay at Boston, and he enjoyed the company of Thomas Green Fessenckn, a distinguished literary figure. Also, at Concord, his meetings with some of the prominent philosophers and social thinkers including Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry Thoreau further accelerated his literary career. He published his short stories collection, Mosses from an Old Manse in 1846. His masterpiece, The Scarlet Letter, hit the shelves in 1850. This world-famous novel fictionalizes the story of two unfortunate lovers of Puritan communities who are kept apart by their weaknesses and irony of fate. Weaving the story of a cursed Pynchon family, he produced his next work, The House of Seven Gables, in 1851. His other notable works include Tanglewood Tales, The Blithedale Romance, and The Marble Faun.
Nathaniel Hawthorne, with his unique writing style, stands among the top American fiction writers. His writings won universal acclaim with the use of imagery, symbolism, allegory, and irony along with a simple and straightforward writing style. His works speak about the mastery of his art such as The Scarlet Letter presents the highly integrated structures, inextricably bound characters, and tangled life web. His other short stories reflect the mastery of his classic literary style, which is superb due to its clarity, richness, and directness. Moreover, his moral insight plays a significant role in most of his writings, where he presented a sincere and honest outlook of corroded by sufferings and challenges. Love also marks the center of his works, but there is no romantic escape fictionalized in his works. Instead, he displayed scrutiny of mental and physical facts of life. The recurring themes in most of his writings are love, life, religion, and dark romanticism.
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Major Works
- Best Novels: He was an outstanding writer some of his best novels include The Blithedale Romance, The Scarlet Letter, Fanshawe, The House of the Seven Gables, and The Romance of Monte Beni.
- Short Stories: Besides novels, he tried his hands on shorter fiction, some of them include “The Hollow of the Three Hills”, “The Man of Adamant”, “and The Artist of the Beautiful”, “Fire Worship and The Ambitious Guest.”
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Impact on Future Literature
Nathaniel Hawthorne, with his intellectual ideas, left a permanent mark on world literature. It has been nearly two centuries, and he still wields a strong influence on the global literary scene. His witty ideas and critical intelligence never ran out of topic. He had a significant influence on other writers, critics, and philosophers. His masterpieces provided the principles for the writers of succeeding generations while his commentary against wrong practices exercised in the world is relevant even in today’s world. He successfully documented his ideas about love and religion in his writings that also today writers try to imitate his unique style, considering him a beacon for writing prose.
- 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. (The Scarlet Letter)
- 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. (Young Goodman Brown)
- That pit of blackness that lies beneath us, everywhere … the firmest substance of human happiness is but a thin crust spread over it, with just reality enough to bear up the illusive stage-scenery amid which we tread. It needs no earthquake to open the chasm. (The Marble Faun)