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Hawthorne in His Own Time

A Biographical Chronicle of His Life,Drawn from Recollections,Interviews, and Memoirs by Family,Frie

Ronald A Bosco, Jillmarie Murphy

Publication Year: 2007

At his death, Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804–1864) was universally acknowledged in America and England as "the Great Romancer." Novels such as The Scarlet Letter and The House of the Seven Gables and stories published in such collections as Twice-Told Tales continue to capture the minds and imaginations of readers and critics to this day. Harder to capture, however, were the character and personality of the man himself. So few of the essays that appeared in the two years after his death offered new insights into his life, art, and reputation that Hawthorne seemed fated to premature obscurity or, at least, permanent misrepresentation. This first collection of personal reminiscences by those who knew Hawthorne intimately or knew about him through reliable secondary sources rescues him from these confusions and provides the real human history behind the successful writer.

Remembrances from Elizabeth Peabody, Sophia Hawthorne, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Bronson Alcott, Rebecca Harding Davis, and twenty others printed in Hawthorne in His Own Time follow him from his childhood in Salem, through his years of initial literary obscurity, his days in the Boston and Salem Custom Houses, his service as U.S. Consul to Liverpool and Manchester and his life in the Anglo-American communities at Rome and Florence, to his late years as the "Great Romancer."

In their enlightening introduction, editors Ronald Bosco and Jillmarie Murphy assess the postmortem building of Hawthorne's reputation as well as his relationship to the prominent Transcendentalists, spiritualists, Swedenborgians, and other personalities of his time. By clarifying the sentimental associations between Hawthorne's writings and his actual personality and moving away from the critical review to the personal narrative, these artful and perceptive reminiscences tell the private and public story of a remarkable life.

Published by: University of Iowa Press


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pp. i-vi

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pp. vii-xli

“Nathaniel Hawthorne Dead!” As obituaries and remembrances appeared in America and England from 19 May 1864 through the ensuing summer months, news of the Great Romancer’s quiet transition on 18 May from this world to the next slowly spread. But even as early versions of the story appeared in print, it fell to former President Franklin Pierce to frame...


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pp. xliii-lii

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[ Reminiscences of My Brother from His Childhood through the 1830s] ( 1870– 1871)

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pp. 1-12

The reason I did not write to you immediately is that I sprained my right wrist, a fortnight ago, in getting out of a wagon in the evening; I can hardly hold a pen yet.

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[ Childhood Encounters with Hawthorne in Salem] ( 1887)

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pp. 13-17

The reminiscence that follows, which describes Hawthorne’s early years in the Salem home of his maternal grandmother, Miriam Lord Manning, first appeared in the New York Observer on 4 Au gust 1887, where it was signed “Vieja”—“Old Woman.” The authenticity of the reminiscence and the identity of Lucy Ann Sutton Bradley as its author were established by Manning Hawthorne in ...

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[ Epistolary Thoughts on Hawthorne, 1838– 1886]

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pp. 18-29

An education and social reformer, Elizabeth Palmer Peabody (1804–1894) was the oldest of the dynamic Peabody sisters. She assisted Bronson Alcott in the Temple School in Boston in the 1830s, operated a bookshop and circulating library on West Street in Boston in the 1840s, and published several of her brother-in-law Nathaniel Hawthorne’s works under her own imprint. Peabody ...

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[ Journal Thoughts on Hawthorne, 1838– 1864]

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pp. 30-35

If pressed for the truth, the authors of many of the narratives collected in this volume would likely confess that the person they most often came to see in Concord was Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882), not Hawthorne—and certainly not Bronson Alcott, Ellery Channing, or Thoreau. Yet, even if Emerson was not the primary object of their visit, as the acknowledged leader of the ...

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[ First Years of Marriage at the Old Manse, 1842– 1845]

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pp. 36-53

After nearly a century-and-a-half of being overshadowed by the reputation of her illustrious husband, Sophia Amelia Peabody Hawthorne (1809–1871) may be finally coming into her own. An artist, author, editor of her husband’s unpublished writings after his death, Transcendental thinker, and devout person, Sophia was an unusually gifted woman of her time. She overcame the invalidism ...

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[ Reminiscences of a Childhood in Concord in the 1840s] ( 1891)

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pp. 54-58

Born in Manchester, New Hampshire, before 1840, Annie Sawyer Downs (ca. 1836–1901) settled with her family in Concord, where they stayed until 1852, when they moved to Haverhill, Massachusetts. Downs’s father, Dr. Benjamin Sawyer, practiced homeopathic medicine and occasionally treated Sophia Hawthorne and Lidian Emerson. Because Downs did not compose them until 1891, ...

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[ On First Meeting Hawthorne in America, 1852]

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pp. 59-61

Hawthorne credited Henry Arthur Bright (1830–1884), a businessman and man of letters from Liverpool, and Francis Bennoch as the two best friends he made in England. The year before Hawthorne’s appointment as U.S. consul to Liverpool and Manchester, Bright, accompanied by his Cambridge (UK) friend, Thomas Burder, spent five months in America, in part as a representative of ...

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From The Homes of the New World; Impressions of America (1853)

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pp. 62-63

Born in Finland, the popular novelist and travel writer Fredrika Bremer (1801–1865) spent most of her life in Sweden. Mingling Old World prejudices with extensive firsthand commentary on American culture at midcentury, her Homes of the New World; Impressions of America ranks among the best produced in the genre during this period. Based upon Bremer’s visit to America in the late ...

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“ Hawthorne” ( 1853)

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pp. 64-78

A prolific author, travel writer, critic, and political journalist, George William Curtis (1824–1892) knew most of the major figures associated with New England Transcendentalism and was particularly taken with Emerson. Curtis and his brother James Burrill Curtis joined the Brook Farm community in 1842 and lived there as boarders for nearly a year and a half. Following a brief stint in New York, ...

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[ Vagabondizing with Hawthorne in England in 1856]

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pp. 79-84

Hawthorne considered the London businessman, politician, and poet Francis Bennoch (1812–1890) and Henry Bright the two best friends he made in England. Bennoch and Bright facilitated the Hawthorne family’s transition from American to English life, introducing them to an ever-widening circle of ac-quaintances drawn from English high society, politics, and the arts; they each ...

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[ My Earliest Memories of Father: Italy, 1858– 1859] ( 1897)

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pp. 85-100

Nicknamed “Rosebud” by her parents, Rose Hawthorne Lathrop (1851–1926), the youngest of Nathaniel and Sophia’s three children, was born in Lenox, Massachusetts, where the Hawthornes lived in the Red Cottage they rented from Caroline Sturgis and her husband, William Tappan. Barely two years old when her father’s appointment as consul to Liverpool and Manchester was ...

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[ Memories of the Hawthornes at the Wayside in 1862] ( 1900)

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pp. 101-109

In this reminiscence of her first journey to New England, the pioneering literary and journalistic realist Rebecca Harding Davis (1831–1910) describes her early desire to become a writer and her first meeting with the Hawthornes, Bronson and Louisa May Alcott, Elizabeth Palmer Peabody, and Emerson, among others, in 1862. Since she hailed from Wheeling, Virginia (later West Virginia), Davis’s ...

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“ Nathaniel Hawthorne” ( 1864)

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pp. 110-114

The English writer and theologian Richard Holt Hutton (1826–1897) was among the first to publish a retrospective obituary of Hawthorne in which the specifi cs of his life were secondary to their fictional representation in his art. In this respect, Hutton’s essay that follows is an important variation on the dominant strain of personal accounts and literary reviews of Hawthorne that were ...

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“ Nathaniel Hawthorne” ( 1864)

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pp. 115-123

The English writer Edward Dicey (1832–1911) was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, where, after taking honors in mathematics and classics, he decided to pursue a career as a journalist, reviewer, and political commentator. His publications appeared in Macmillan’s Magazine, the London Daily Telegraph, the London Daily News, and the Observer; he served as the editor of ...

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“ Hawthorne” ( 1864)

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pp. 124-130

Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809–1894) was among the few people who saw Hawthorne on the day he left Boston for his final journey with Franklin Pierce. A Harvard graduate, practicing physician, Unitarian reformer, New England’s resident autocrat, professor, and poet “at the breakfast-table,” and a Boston Brahmin of the first order, Holmes enjoyed a cordial relationship with Haw-...

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From “ Our Whispering Gallery” ( 1871)

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pp. 130-150

One of mid-nineteenth-century America’s most influential publishers, James Thomas Fields (1817–1881) began his career at seventeen as a clerk in Boston’s Old Corner Bookstore. In 1843, he became junior partner in Ticknor and Fields, as the firm was generally known after 1846; Ticknor and Fields evolved into Fields, Osgood and Company in 1868 and eventually into Houghton Mifflin. ...

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From Concord Days (1872)

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pp. 151-154

Educator, philosopher, lecturer, and author, Amos Bronson Alcott (1799–1888) lived one of the purer—albeit, at times, wholly impractical—versions of Transcendentalism. After an unsuccessful stint as a teacher in Philadelphia, Alcott, who lived in Boston in the 1820s, returned there in 1834 to operate the progressive Temple School with the assistance of Elizabeth Palmer Peabody. ...

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“ Bowdoin College— Nathaniel Hawthorne” ( 1875)

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pp. 155-160

Written to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Bowdoin College’s class of 1825 and its most prominent member, the reminiscence that follows is among the best of the type that began to appear with increasing frequency after 1875. A classmate of Hawthorne and Longfellow, John Stevens Cabot Abbott (1805–1877) was ordained a Congregational minister in 1830, after finishing his stud-...

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From A Study of Hawthorne (1876)

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pp. 161-173

Born near Honolulu, Hawaii, and educated in New York and in Dresden, Germany, George Parsons Lathrop (1851–1898) enjoyed a multifaceted career as an associate editor of the Atlantic Monthly (1875–1877), a newspaper journalist, an author of poetry and fiction, and Hawthorne’s first comprehensive biographer and editor of his works. A founder of the American Copyright League ...

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From Hawthorne (1879)

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pp. 174-186

American author, theorist, and biographer of Emerson and William Wetmore Story as well as of Hawthorne, Henry James (1843–1916) admired great writ-ers, lofty ideas, and culture steeped in tradition. Several novels of James’s early and later periods—The American (1877), The Portrait of a Lady (1881), The Bostonians (1886), What Maisie Knew (1897), The Wings of the Dove (1902), and ...

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“ Nathaniel Hawthorne” ( 1880)

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pp. 187-194

Although he prepared as a physician at Harvard, George Bailey Loring (1817–1891) spent the greater part of his career as a conservative politican, holding positions such as postmaster of Salem, chairman of the Massachusetts State Republican Committee, U.S. commissioner of agriculture, and U.S. minister to Portugal. Loring typically wrote essays on politics and agriculture, but had ...

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[ A Conversation about Hawthorne at the Concord School of Philosophy in 1880]

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pp. 195-206

Over his long and varied career as a teacher in Concord, journalist, abolitionist and social reformer, prolific reporter of Transcendentalism in New England, and biographer of Emerson, Thoreau, Bronson Alcott, and others, Franklin Benjamin Sanborn (1831–1917) earned immense respect from his contemporaries. Today, however, his reputation is mixed at best. For although as a ...

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“ Nathaniel and Sophia Hawthorne” ( 1882)

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pp. 207-215

Born in Virginia to a slaveholding family, the Unitarian minister, prolific author, and abolitionist Moncure Daniel Conway (1832–1907) might seem an unlikely advocate for the core beliefs associated with Transcendentalism. However, after first meeting Emerson in Concord in 1853, and through him being drawn into the eclectic circle that included Thoreau, Elizabeth Hoar and Elizabeth ...

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“ My First Visit to New England” ( 1894)

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pp. 216-222

As a young staffer on the Ohio State Journal, William Dean Howells (1837–1920) undertook a literary tour of New England and New York in 1860. He called on Holmes, Lowell, and Fields in Boston; Hawthorne, Thoreau, and Emerson in Concord; and Walt Whitman in New York, where he also fell in with the Bohemians at Pfaff’s Bleeker Street restaurant. After serving from 1861 to ...

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From Sketches from Concord and Appledore (1895)

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pp. 223-236

Frank Preston Stearns (1846–1917) was the son of George Luther Stearns, the fiery reformer who supported John Brown in Kansas, belonged to Concord’s “Secret Six,” and helped establish the Freedmen’s Bureau. The son’s life took a very different direction. Educated at Sanborn’s academy in Concord and then at Harvard, Stearns, who was the same age as Julian Hawthorne and on friendly ...

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“ Hawthorne’s Last Years” ( 1904)

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pp. 237-246

Julian Hawthorne (1846–1934) was Nathaniel and Sophia’s middle child and only son. Spending his early years in Massachusetts, as his parents moved from place to place, and abroad in England and Italy during and after his father’s consulship in Liverpool and Manchester, Julian enjoyed his first real sense of home when the family returned to the Wayside in Concord in 1860. For most of ...


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pp. 247-248

Works Cited

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pp. 249-252


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pp. 253-264

E-ISBN-13: 9781587297113
E-ISBN-10: 1587297116
Print-ISBN-13: 9781587295836
Print-ISBN-10: 1587295830

Page Count: 320
Publication Year: 2007

Edition: 1