Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-64) biography & famous works

Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-64)
Categories : American Literature

Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-64)

Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-64)
Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-64) biography & famous works 4

Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) was an American writer known for his works of fiction, which often explored moral and psychological themes. Here is a biography of Nathaniel Hawthorne and an overview of his famous works:

Nathaniel Hawthorne was born on July 4, 1804, in Salem, Massachusetts, into a family with a long history in the New England region. His ancestors played a prominent role in the Salem witch trials of 1692. Hawthorne’s early years were marked by the death of his father, which had a profound impact on him.

Hawthorne attended Bowdoin College in Maine, where he became friends with future literary figures such as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Franklin Pierce, who later became the 14th President of the United States. After graduating, Hawthorne struggled to find stable employment and devoted himself to writing.

In 1842, Hawthorne married Sophia Peabody, and they had three children together. They lived in Concord, Massachusetts, for a time and developed friendships with notable Transcendentalist thinkers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau.

Famous Works:

  1. “The Scarlet Letter” (1850): Hawthorne’s most famous novel, “The Scarlet Letter,” is set in Puritan New England and explores themes of sin, guilt, and redemption. The story revolves around Hester Prynne, who is forced to wear a scarlet letter “A” as a symbol of her adultery. The novel examines the psychological and moral effects of societal judgment and explores the complexities of human nature. 

    As Hester strives to rebuild her life as a single mother, she is pursued by her former lover, Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale, who is wracked with guilt over his secret involvement in her affair. Meanwhile, the villainous Roger Chillingworth, who Hester married shortly before his disappearance, returns to town, seeking revenge on the man who cuckolded him.

    Through the complex relationships that develop between these three central characters, Hawthorne creates a profound and timeless meditation on the human condition, ultimately exploring the ways in which we reconcile ourselves with our own deepest flaws and the role of society in that process.

  2. “The House of the Seven Gables” (1851): This novel tells the story of the Pyncheon family, whose ancestral home carries a curse. It delves into themes of guilt, atonement, and the influence of the past on the present. Hawthorne uses intricate symbolism and atmospheric descriptions to create a brooding and mysterious atmosphere.
  1. “Twice-Told Tales” (1837): This collection of short stories showcases Hawthorne’s early works. The stories explore themes of morality, guilt, and the supernatural. It includes notable tales such as “Young Goodman Brown” and “The Minister’s Black Veil.”
  2. “The Blithedale Romance” (1852): Inspired by Hawthorne’s experiences at the Transcendentalist community of Brook Farm, this novel examines the tensions between idealism and reality. It explores themes of love, utopianism, and individualism.
  3. “The Marble Faun” (1860): Set in Italy, this novel follows the lives of four main characters and explores themes of sin, guilt, and the pursuit of artistic beauty. It reflects Hawthorne’s interest in exploring the dark recesses of the human psyche.

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s works are characterized by their exploration of moral dilemmas, psychological complexity, and the consequences of guilt and secrecy. His writings often blend elements of romance, allegory, and symbolism. Hawthorne’s contributions to American literature have had a lasting impact and continue to be studied and celebrated for their depth and insight into the human condition.


Herman Melville (1819-1891)

Herman Melville (1819-1891)

He was an American writer born in New York. His life and writings were shaped by his early experiences at sea, as well as his family’s fall from wealth to poverty.