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Nathaniel Hawthorne


Nathaniel Hawthorne was a famous American writer who grew up in Massachusetts. He grew up as part of a prominent New England family whose father was actually a prominent judge during the Salem witch trials. The legacy of this family was puritanism and this was grappled with in many of the stories and Nathaniel Hawthorne produced including the Scarlet letter. Nathaniel Hawthorne is particularly well known for his writing of the Scarlet letter but he is also well-known as an American transcendentalist. During most of his life he lived in close proximity to another famous writer named Ralph Waldo Emerson. He was friendly with Herman Melville and he participated in a communal farm nearby. He and his wife were very reclusive and preferred solitary living.

As a child his father was a sea captain who died early of yellow fever. His uncle helped to finance his college education in spite of the protests that Hawthorne presented. At 17 he already stated clearly on record that he did not want to be a doctor nor did he want to be a lawyer nor did he want to be a minister he only wanted to be an author someone who was not forced to live by disease's in or quarrels between men. This sentiment is something that drove much of his writing direction especially as his characters encounter different aspects of humanity that Hawthorn himself despised.

Hawthorne continued throughout college in spite of his lack of interest in higher education. He regularly communicated with friends such as Henry Longfellow. And he didn't study specifically for profession but rather he studied composition, the classics, philosophy, natural science, and mathematics. He was an avid reader and writer but he didn't care for formal education and was not interested in history or modern literature. He graduated in 1825 from college as an average student.

After graduation he spent a great deal of time back in Salem. He began to research his ancestral roots and the Puritan past that helped to supplement his family's influence among the colonies, particularly the involvement in the Salem witch trials. After his marriage he became embedded within the transcendental movement and lived to reclusive life focused on his wife and his farming. He wrote short stories that were published in local magazines and took up a job at a customhouse to supplement his income. Today he is nonetheless remembered for many of his contributions to the Romantic Movement and his popular literature.