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Stanford libraries acquire Nathaniel Hawthorne family papers

The Stanford University Libraries have acquired a group of papers related to Nathaniel Hawthorne's family.

The collection includes letters and journals of his wife, Sophia Peabody Hawthorne, and correspondence from relatives, friends and critics. Dating from 1830 into the early 1850s, the manuscripts reflect the years of Hawthorne's greatest literary achievement, from Twice Told Tales (1837), which first established his reputation, through his masterpieces, The Scarlet Letter (1850), The House of Seven Gables (1851) and The Blithedale Romance (1852).

The collection also includes papers from two of the Hawthorne children, Julian and Rose Hawthorne Lathrop, both of whom were writers.

Most of Sophia Hawthorne's letters are addressed to her mother and sisters. With her journals, they present pictures of daily life in the Hawthorne household, detailed accounts of her reading and portraits of such contemporary literary figures as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau and Herman Melville.

"In Sophia Hawthorne we are in the presence of a gifted witness and participant in what is one of the richest periods in American letters," said Jay Fliegelman, professor of English. He said the manuscripts "will have a deep and lasting interest, not only for literary researchers, but for those doing women's history from numerous disciplinary points of view."

Rose Hawthorne Lathrop's papers date principally from the 1890s, when she converted to Catholicism, until her death in 1926.

"Five books have already been written on Rose Hawthorne, and none explores the imaginative and personal dimensions revealed by the nearly 1,000 pages of holograph material," said William McPheron, library curator for American literature.

After the papers are processed and cataloged, they will be available to scholars through the Department of Special Collections in Green Library.


By Diane Manuel

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