[From The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1948 (no copyright notice), in Great Illustrated Classics series. "With illustrations reproducing drawings for early editions and photographs of comtemporary scenes together with an introductory biographical sketch of the author and anecdotal captions by Basil Davenport." (Online editor's note: this is the conventional Hawthorne history, but some is more legend than fact.) See also the illustrated volume by Davenport, The House of the Seven Gables.]
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This and the other line drawings in this volume are the work of Felix Octavius Darley, one of the foremost American illustrators of the nineteenth century. Darley has his own society and now his own website thanks to Carol Digel.
For three years after his marriage Hawthorne lived at the Old Manse, or parsonage, in Concord, where he wrote the volume of short stories called Mosses from an Old Manse.
Hawthorne was employed as Surveyor of the Custom House, until the election to the presidency of Zachary Taylor, a Whig, meant that the Democrats like Hawthorne were thrown out of their jobs. His wife came forward with some money that no one knew she had saved, "amounting to--well, hundreds of dollars," says Hawthorne's son Julian, and said, "Now you can write the Great Romance!" And Hawthorne wrote The Scarlet Letter.
Hawthorne lived here while writing The Scarlet Letter. When its success had made him independent, he moved to Lenox, Massachusetts, and lived in a little cottage called the Red Shanty, with a forest behind it which he called Tanglewood. He used this setting in the framework for his retelling of Greek myths, A Wonder Book and Tanglewood Tales. The Tappan family, to whom the land belonged, adopted his name of Tanglewood for the whole of it. The estate was later given to the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and the Berkshire Music Festival is held there every summer.
From a drawing by Sigismond de Ivanowski.
This grave in King's Chapel graveyard, Boston, is that of Elizabeth Pain, who, in 1683, was sentenced to be whipped for the murder of her child. The authorities have put up a sign identifying it as that of Hester Prynne. [no longer there] The stories of the two women are not much alike, and, except for the slight similarity of names, there is no reason to identify them. But the mere fact that such a grave is shown, like the spurious tomb of Romeo and Juliet at Verona, or the spurious cell of Edmond Dantes in the Chateau d'If, is a testimony to the vitality of Hawthorne's tale and its hold on the imagination. [The (Omni) Parker House, formerly Parker's Hotel, is in the background.]
A photograph of Hawthorne's wife. When he lost his job at the Custom House, he said of her, "She will bear it like a woman--that is, better than a man"; and she produced enough money which she had secretly saved for Hawthorne to live on while he wrote The Scarlet Letter, which assured his fame.
From The Scarlet Letter illustrated by Hugh Thomson, an edition by George H. Doran, Company, New York, printed by Morrison and Gibb Limited, Edinburgh, no date or copyright notice. (From the signatures the date appears to be 1915; Thomson died in 1920.)
Information from Dr. Chris Browne at Monash University, Australia, 2000-06-10: "Just some more info on the illustrations by Hugh Thomson for The Scarlet Letter. They were drawn in 1915, starting in June or July. They were not printed and published in the UK until 1920 when the Morrison and Gibb printings were published by Methuen. I do not know when the Doran edition came out, but I would expect it would be 1920 or just after. The only other contemporary American publishers of Thomson were Ginn and Co., New York (Tom Brown's Schooldays, 1918) and the New York branch of Macmillans (various from 1906). The best source of information on Hugh Thomson is the book 'Hugh Thomson his art his letters and his charm' by M H Spielmann and Walter Jerrold, published in 1931 by A & C Black London. This was one year after Thomson's death."
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The Rare Book Collection of Mt. Holyoke College has an archive of Hugh Thomson's works. Some other of his illustrations are online at other sites, from books by Jane Austen and others. Quite a few rare book stores online sell his beautiful volumes--they are well worth the money in an age when it has become too expensive to produce new books like these. Use our /Search/ page in another window.
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