The simple events of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s life have long been before the public. From 1835 onward they may easily be traced in the various Note-books, which have been edited from his diary, and previous to that time we are indebted for them chiefly to the recollections of his two faithful friends, Horatio Bridge and Elizabeth Peabody. These were first systematised and published by George P. Lathrop in 1872, but a more complete and authoritative biography was issued by Julian Hawthorne twelve years later, in which, however, the writer has modestly refrained from expressing an opinion as to the quality of his father’s genius, or from attempting any critical examination of his father’s literary work. It is in order to supply in some measure this deficiency, that the present volume has been written. At the same time, I trust to have given credit where it was due to my predecessors, in the good work of making known the true character of so rare a genius and so exceptional a personality.
The publication of Horatio Bridge’s memoirs and of Elizabeth Manning’s account of the boyhood of Hawthorne have placed before the world much that is new and valuable concerning the earlier portion of Hawthorne’s life, of which previous biographers could not very well reap the advantage. I have made thorough researches in regard to Hawthorne’s American ancestry, but have been able to find no ground for the statements of Conway and Lathrop, that William Hathorne, their first ancestor on this side of the ocean, was directly connected with the Quaker persecution. Some other mistakes, like Hawthorne’s supposed connection with the duel between Cilley and Graves, have also been corrected.
F. P. S.
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