Chippings with a Chisel
by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Nathaniel Hawthorne was born on July 4, 1804, in Salem, Massachusetts, where his birthplace is now a museum. WilliamHathorne, who emigrated from England in 1630, was the first ofHawthorne's ancestors to arrive in the colonies. After arriving, William persecuted Quakers. William's son John Hathorne was one ofthe judges who oversaw the Salem Witch Trials. (One theory is thathaving learned about this, the author added the "w" to his surnamein his early twenties, shortly after graduating from college.)Hawthorne's father, Nathaniel Hathorne, Sr., was a sea captain whodied in 1808 of yellow fever, when Hawthorne was only four yearsold, in Raymond, Maine. Hawthorne attended Bowdoin College at theexpense of an uncle from 1821 to 1824, befriending classmates HenryWadsworth Longfellow and future president Franklin Pierce. Whilethere he joined the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity. Until thepublication of his Twice-Told Tales in 1837, Hawthorne wrote in thecomparative obscurity of what he called his "owl's nest" in thefamily home. As he looked back on this period of his life, hewrote: "I have not lived, but only dreamed about living." And yetit was this period of brooding and writing that had formed, asMalcolm Cowley was to describe it, "the central fact in Hawthorne'scareer, " his "term of apprenticeship" that would eventually resultin the "richly meditated fiction." Hawthorne was hired in 1839 as aweigher and gauger at the Boston Custom House. He had b...
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