Red Letter Day: The Anniversary of Hawthorne’s ‘The Scarlet Letter’

It was on this day in 1850 that Nathaniel Hawthorne, of the Class of 1825, published what is considered to be his magnum opus, The Scarlet Letter, a story of adultery and betrayal in colonial America. The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor highlights the occasion with an account of Hawthorne’s publication process, from showing his wife the newly finished manuscript, to dealing with the fallout from unhappy residents of Salem, Mass., upon which the fictional setting was based.

History.com offers more biographical information, including the fact that, in 1853, “Hawthorne’s old college friend, President Franklin Pierce, appointed him American consul to England.”

Bonus trivia: In that Sopranos episode that had Tony and Meadow visiting Bowdoin, the quote that Tony read on the wall at the Admissions Office was from The Scarlet Letter: “No man … can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which one may be true.”

One thought on “Red Letter Day: The Anniversary of Hawthorne’s ‘The Scarlet Letter’

  1. Hilton Fowler

    The 1960’s,the decade of the celebration of the Centennial of the Civil War, brought to light for me (for the first time, although he attended a preparatory school in my home town of Ellsworth) the greatness and of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain and his love and contributions to this country and Bowdoin College. I confess to further proof of my provincialism with respect to the father of the
    American Novel, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and his 1825 Classmate,the most loved American
    Poet of the 19th and early 20th Century, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. I had once seen Longfellow’s sitting Lincoln-like statue in Portland. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s
    “The Scarlet Letter” was obviously not studied at puritanical Ellsworth High School.
    I certainly would like to attend a summer session that addressed many of great graduates of Bowdoin.

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