Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864)
Novelist, born in Salem, Massachusetts, son of a sea captain, who died in 1808. A bad accident during his early boyhood soon led to a taste for reading. His education was completed at Bowdoin College, where he had Longfellow for a fellow-student. After graduating, he obtained a post in the Custom-House, which, however, he did not find congenial, and soon gave up, betaking himself to literature; among his earliest efforts, besides a novel, Fanshawe, unsuccessful, there were short tales and sketches, which, after appearing in periodicals, were collected and published as Twice-told Tales (1837), followed by a second series in 1842. In 1841 he joined the socialistic community at Brook Farm for a few months, but soon fed up with it, and in the next year he married and settled down in an old manse in Concord, formerly tenanted by Emerson, where he wrote Mosses from an Old Manse (1846). It was followed by The Snow Image (1851), The Scarlet Letter (1850), his most powerful work, The House of Seven Gables, and The Blithedale Romance (1852); besides, his childrens books, The Wonder Book, and The Tanglewood Tales.
In 1853 he received from his friend franklin Pierce, on his election to the Presidency, the appointment of United States Consul at Liverpool, which he retained for four years, when, after a threatened failure of health, he went to Italy and began his story of The Marble Faun, published in England in 1860 as The Transformation. The last book published during his lifetime was Our Old Home (1863), notes on England and the English. He had returned to America in 1860, where, very weak ann sick, spent his remaining four years. After his death, The Ancestral Footstep, Septimus Felton, Dr. Grimshawes Secret, and The Dolliver Romance have been published, all very fragmentary. Most of Hawthornes work is pervaded by a strong element of mysticism, and a tendency to dwell in the border-land between the seen and the unseen. His style is highlighted by a distinctive grace and charm. On the whole, he is undoubtedly the greatest imaginative writer among Americans. From Biographical Dictionary of English Literature - the Everyman Edition of 1910