July 1, 2015

Wednesday Writing Wisdom (14) Nathaniel Hawthorne





“Easy reading is damn hard writing.”


Nathaniel Hawthorne
  (1804 - 1864)

Curious facts about:



He changed his last name in part to hide his family’s dark past. The novelist’s great-great-grandfather, John Hathorne, was a leading judge of the Salem witch trials, and Hawthorne was haunted by his ancestor’s shameful past. Shortly after graduating from Bowdoin, the author added a “w” to his last name in part to make the spelling match the pronunciation and also to disassociate himself from a figure of whom he wrote was “so conspicuous in the martyrdom of the witches, that their blood may fairly be said to have left a stain upon him.”



When “The Scarlet Letter” was published in the spring of 1850, the initial print run of 2,500 copies sold out in only 10 days. However, given the publicity that had surrounded Hawthorne’s firing the year before, readers were initially less interested in the tale of Hester Prynne than they were in the novel’s introduction, “The Custom-House,” in which Hawthorne’s barbed pen skewered his political enemies.


With the author’s health failing in the spring of 1864 as a likely result of gastrointestinal cancer, Hawthorne’s old college friend, former president Franklin Pierce traveled with him to New Hampshire’s White Mountains with the hope that the region’s rarified air could be an elixir. On the evening of May 18 inside the Pemigewasset House hotel in Plymouth, New Hampshire, Hawthorne retired early after a dinner of toast and tea. During the night, Pierce awoke to check on his friend in the adjoining room. The former president placed his hand upon Hawthorne’s forehead and found that he was dead. Pierce’s presence fulfilled a passage in Hawthorne’s novel “The Blithedale Romance”: “Happy the man that has such a friend beside him, when he comes to die!”
 

11 comments:

  1. Love Hawthorne's quote. Carmen, you always find such interesting information about your Wednesday writers. I'm so glad his good friend President Pierce was with him that night.

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    1. Thank you for finding the Wednesday writing interesting!
      And how true his words are.

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    2. Sounds interesting and I love that Era . Love reading about people that made up that everyday Luke

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    3. Glad he found a friend that was buy him expecially when be got sick and back then sling 10 copies was fantasia

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    4. Thank you for stopping by Demetra! I have this post each Wednesday if you want to read unknown facts about famous authors.

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  2. I'm also glad he had such a good friend with him at the end. It sounds like he may have passed peacefully in his sleep.

    I've had an opportunity to visit Salem and also tour the House of Seven Gables, which belonged to Mr. Hawthorne's cousin and inspired his book by the same name. Another stellar writer, Carmen. I find your Wednesday posts so interesting!

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    1. Wow! How interesting that you had the opportunity to see the house that inspired the book.
      Thank you for checking my post, Mae, and glad you find them to your liking! I also found out many things about these writers, many of whom are my favorites.

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  3. Salem is a place I would love to visit. What a very intersting gentleman Mr. Hawthorne was and how right he remains regarding easy reading. Thanks for sharing this, Carnen, it was very interesting.

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    1. All writers, as they are artist too, have peculiarities. More than ordinary people do. Thank you for visiting, Daisy!

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  4. I've got to make a note to check in on Wednesdays. I love these posts, Carmen. I visited his home several years ago when I was on the east coast.

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    1. Lucky you! It is so nice to have the opportunity to see authors' homes, the place where they sat and brought to life
      immortal masterpieces.
      Oh, I think if you follow by email you receive a note when I post something. I am delighted when people like my posts, of course. Thank you for dropping by!

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