Nathaniel Hawthorne was a well known author during the mid 1800s. He was born on July 4, 1804 in Salem, Massachusetts. The house which he was born in is now a museum. His father, Nathaniel Hathorne, Sr. died when Jr. was 4 years old. Nathaniel added the ‘w’ to his name when he started writing. He did this because he was ashamed of his ancestor’s and also perceived as a terrible person because of their actions. His first ancestors in the new world persecuted Quakers and during the Salem Witch Trials Hawthorne’s great grandfather convicted many innocent citizens as witches. Once Hawthorne became a writer he added the ‘w’ so that he would be more successful and less haunted by his family’s past. Hawthorne went to Bowdoin College in Maine. He befriended several other figures of history while he was there. One was a fellow writer, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and future president Franklin Pierce. On July 9, 1842, he married Sophia Peabody and they had three children throughout the course of their marriage. In 1853, Hawthorne was appointed as U.S. Consul in England by friend and president, Franklin Pierce. The classic The Scarlet Letter was written in 1850. This was at the end of Hawthorne’s twenty-five year writing career.
Hawthorne’s first stories were inspired by John Bunyan and Edmund Spenser. They are primarily set in Puritan New England. Hawthorne called his style romance. Instead of using sensation and sentiment to grasp the reader’s interest, he used the idea of facing the truth instead of beating around the bush. The themes that influence many of his stories include sin, morality, and redemption. He had a unique style of writing compared to the rest at the time.
Hawthorne contributed to society and the world not only as a writer, but in other ways as well. He was a great friend to presidents and served as U.S. Consul overseas for four years. In the writer’s world, however, he influenced many fellow writers. The classic Moby Dick, written by Herman Melville, was dedicated to Hawthorne. Nathaniel Hawthorne also received praise by Edgar Allan Poe for his works. Hawthorne’s classic The Scarlet Letter is another way that he contributed to the world by providing a timeless classic novel that has taught generations upon generations after his time about sin and its consequences. Though his other books made a significant impact on society, The Scarlet Letter is the most renowned.
The novels written by Nathaniel Hawthorne have taught readers and society about the results of sin and the darker side of the happy lives written about in other novels. He simply shared his ideas and left behind great works for generations to enjoy and continue to learn from. Along with The Scarlet Letter, he wrote The House of the Seven Gables, The Blithedale Romance, and The Marble Faun.
After Hawthorne’s death his wife Sophia continued to edit his remaining work to be published. Hawthorne now lies in Concord, Massachusetts in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.