Nathaniel Hawthorne was born on July 4, 1804 in Salem, Massachusetts. He was the only child of Nathaniel, a sea captain, and Elizabeth Clark Hathorne. After his father died, Hawthorne and his mother went to live with wealthy relatives. The “w” in Hawthorne’s name was later added in an effort to distance the writer from his Puritan background. In 1825, Hawthorne graduated from Bowdoin College. He then returned home for a twelve year span, during which Hawthorne focused on chiseling his writing for publication. Shortly thereafter, he courted Sophia Peabody (the sister of Elizabeth Peabody), and the pair married in 1842. They initially settled down in Concord, Massachusetts, at the Old Manse. The Hawthornes had three children together. It was Sophia who introduced Hawthorne to Transcendentalism, in which he retained a somewhat ambivalent attitude. Still, he remained interested in the subject and would frequently attend meetings with other Transcendental contemporaries.
Hawthorne and his family moved between Salem, Lenox, Europe (for a short term), until residing once again in Concord. His novel, The Scarlet Letter,was one of the first books to be mass produced, thus gaining him literary notoriety. Other famous works by him include The House of the Seven Gables, his last novel The Marble Faun, and a vast collection of short stories. After a period of health decline, Hawthorne died on May 19, 1864 while vacationing in New Hampshire. He was laid to rest in Concord, at the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.