An icon of American Literature was published on this day in 1850.
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter would become required reading over a century later (at least I remember it as such). When he published it however, it was finally the means to financial success for his growing family. Hawthorne had struggled up to this point, even trying his hands at an agricultural coop (which he turned into his novel The Blithedale Romanc, and spending time working in a Customs house in order to support his family.
Hawthorne was born in Salem Massachusetts. The 100 years since the actual witch trials had left a heavy pall across the town, influencing much of Hawthorne’s early years. After he started to see marginal success in 1842, he married Sophia Peabody and moved to Concord, Massachusetts. There he became friends with Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Branson Alcott, father of writer Louisa May Alcott.
A few years after the publication of The Scarlet Letter, President Franklin Pierce, a college friend of Hawthorne’s, would make him the American consul to England. His family would live ‘across the pond’ for three years, before returning stateside. He would later leave die in Plymouth, New Hampshire in 1864.
The story told by Hawthorne in The Scarlet Letter is sadly all too true in this world today. Adultery doesn’t carry quite the same shame and stigma experienced in this country’s infancy, but it should. If you are not capable of holding onto your promises, then it is best to not get married in the first place. Find where you belong my Gentle Readers, and stay out of someone else’s relationship. It never ends well. Until next time. Live well, write well, be well.