US Stamps

By Michael Baadke

Born July 4: Nathaniel Hawthorne

July 04, 2016 03:30 AM

  • Author Nathaniel Hawthorne, honored in 1983 on a 20¢ stamp in the Literary Arts series.

By Michael Baadke

Nathaniel Hawthorne, the American author of The Scarlet Letter and the short story collection Twice-Told Tales, was born July 4, 1804, in Salem, Mass. He attended Bowdoin College, where he became close friends with future president Franklin Pierce, and also met fellow writer Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

He published a number of his short stories, which were collected in 1837 as Twice-Told Tales. Unable to support himself with his writing, he found employment at the Boston Custom House in 1839.

He married Sophia Peabody in 1842, and the couple had three children. In 1850 The Scarlet Letter was published, exploring the themes of sin and guilt in Puritan New England. It is Hawthorne’s best known work, and later novels, including The House of Seven Gables (1851), continued to examine psychological themes.

Hawthorne completed several novels before his death in 1864. He is commemorated on a 20¢ stamp issued July 8, 1983, in the Literary Arts series (Scott 2047).