Nathaniel Hawthorne

American novelist and short story writer Nathaniel Hawthorne was born on 4 July 1804 in Salem, Massachusetts.

Hawthorne studied at Bowdoin College from 1821 to 1825 and shortly thereafter published his first novel Fanshawe in 1828. In 1836, he served as the editor of the American Magazine of Useful and Entertaining Knowledge.

Predominantly a short story writer in his early career, Hawthorne, after publishing Twice-Told Tales (1837), surprisingly observed about his own works, “I do not think much of them.” However, his most popular short stories include ‘My Kinsman, Major Molineux’ (1832), ‘The Minister’s Black Veil’ (1832), ‘Young Goodman Brown’ (1835) and ‘Feathertop’ (1852).

Hawthorne’s other major romances apart from the bestselling The Scarlet Letter (1850) were The House of the Seven Gables (1851), The Blithedale Romance (1852) and The Marble Faun (1860). For Hawthorne, romance was about exploring psychological themes like sin, human fallibility, self-destruction and retribution. Dark romanticism bordering on surrealism is what Hawthorne’s works, inspired by Puritan New England, were steeped in.

His seminal essay ‘Chiefly About War Matters’ (1862) foregrounded the author’s experiences of meeting eminent figures like Abraham Lincoln, during his travel to Washington, D.C., amidst the American Civil War.

Among his published works, a biography of his college friend Franklin Pierce, the 14th President of the United States is also noteworthy.

Hawthorne died in his sleep on 19 May 1864.