Hailed as one of the greatest fiction writers in American literature,
Nathaniel Hawthorne is best known for his mastery of symbolism and allegory
in the famous novels "The Scarlet Letter" (1850) and "The House of the Seven Gables" (1851).
Born in Salem, Mass., in 1804, Hawthorne grew up with his mother and sisters in the
home of nearby relatives after the death of his father when Hawthorne was four.
He went on to attend Bowdoin College in Maine from 1821 to 1824, where he excelled only
at composition. After graduation, Hawthorne published his first novel, "Fanshawe" (1828),
which he later decided he hated so much he attempted to destroy all remaining copies of
the book. Soon after, however, Hawthorne was able to establish his own voice in
writing and achieved some literary success with short stories like "My Kinsman, Major Molineux" (1832)
and "Young Goodman Brown" (1835), along with a collection of writings entitled "Mosses from an Old Manse" (1846).
Despite his success, Hawthorne was unable to improve his financial situation.
A growing family and accumulated debt forced him to return to Salem in 1845, where he
was appointed surveyor of the Port of Salem. After three years there, Hawthorne decided
to devote himself entirely to writing again, and it was in this time that he produced
several of the works he has become famous for, including "The Blithedale Romance" (1852).
Nathaniel Hawthorne died in 1864 in Plymouth, N.H.
Check out these sites for more about Nathaniel Hawthorne:
American Literature on the Web
This site is an excellent place to start your search. It includes selected writings by the author, information on Wayside,
the only home Hawthorne ever owned, and early and recent criticisms of the author's famous works.
Melville's Letters to Hawthorne
A collection of letters written to Hawthorne from his friend Herman Melville.
Some are merely notes from one author to another, but several reveal Melville's deep
admiration for Hawthorne and his talents.