At his death, Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804–1864) was universally acknowledged in America and England as "the Great Romancer." Novels such as The Scarlet Letter and The House of the Seven Gables and stories published in such collections as Twice-Told Tales continue to capture the minds and imaginations of readers and critics to this day. Harder to capture, however, were the character and personality of the man himself. So few of the essays that appeared in the two years after his death offered new insights into his life, art, and reputation that Hawthorne seemed fated to premature obscurity or, at least, permanent misrepresentation. This first collection of personal reminiscences by those who knew Hawthorne intimately or knew about him through reliable secondary sources rescues him from these confusions and provides the real human history behind the successful writer.
Remembrances from Elizabeth Peabody, Sophia Hawthorne, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Bronson Alcott, Rebecca Harding Davis, and twenty others printed in Hawthorne in His Own Time follow him from his childhood in Salem, through his years of initial literary obscurity, his days in the Boston and Salem Custom Houses, his service as U.S. Consul to Liverpool and Manchester and his life in the Anglo-American communities at Rome and Florence, to his late years as the "Great Romancer."
In their enlightening introduction, editors Ronald Bosco and Jillmarie Murphy assess the postmortem building of Hawthorne's reputation as well as his relationship to the prominent Transcendentalists, spiritualists, Swedenborgians, and other personalities of his time. By clarifying the sentimental associations between Hawthorne's writings and his actual personality and moving away from the critical review to the personal narrative, these artful and perceptive reminiscences tell the private and public story of a remarkable life.