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Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1804-1864

Rose Hawthorne Lathrop
Mother Alphonsa


ROSE HAWTHORNE, the second daughter of Nathaniel and Sophia Hawthorne, converted to Roman Catholicism in 1891 and founded a religious order to care for victims of cancer.

Born in Lenox, Mass., May 20, 1851, Rose grew up moving from place to place. She lived in West Newton, Mass.; Concord, Mass.; and as an infant in Liverpool, England; then London, Paris, Rome, and Florence, Italy. After her family returned to Concord in 1860, her father died in 1864, and her mother and family moved to Germany and then England.

She had an unhappy marriage to George Parsons Lathrop, who became assistant editor of Atlantic Monthly, and who edited a collected edition of Hawthorne's works in 1883. Lathrop was an alcoholic. Their son, Francis, born in 1876, died five years later.

Mrs. Lathrop wrote short stories and verse. A book of poems, Along the Shore, was published in 1888.

She separated from her husband and moved to New York. There she trained as a nurse in order to aid cancer victims. To help raise money, she wrote Memories of Hawthorne, 1897. She opened a refuge for cancer victims on New York's Lower East Side. Her husband died in 1898 and a year later she moved to a larger house, St. Rose's Free Home for Incurable Cancer.

Rose made her vows as a Dominican nun Dec. 8, 1900, taking the name Alphonsa. With her first companion, Sister M. Rose, she founded the Dominican Congregation of St. Rose of Lima, later called the Servants of Relief for Incurable Cancer.

In 1901, Mother Alphonsa opened Rosary Hill Home in Hawthorne, New York (now the mother home of the order). She died there July 9, 1926, the anniversary of her parents' wedding.

The Dominican Sisters at Rosary Hill now have an attractive home page on the WWW.

For further information, see the biographies by Katherine Burton, Sorrow Built a Bridge: A Daughter of Hawthorne (London: Longman, Greens, 1937), Theodore Maynard, A Fire Was Lighted, (1948), Marguerite Vance, On the Wings of Fire: the Story of Nathaniel Hawthorne's Daughter, Rose (1955), and M. Joseph, Out of Many Hearts (1961). A more academic biography is Patricia Dunlavy Valenti, To Myself a Stranger, (Louisiana State University Press, 1991, PS2231V35 1991 90-23670, ISBN 0-8071-1612-2).

Some of the Hawthorne Family papers, including those of Rose Hawthorne, are at Stanford, Department of Special Collections, Green Library.

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