Cover image for Hawthorne in Concord
Hawthorne in Concord
McFarland, Philip James.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Grove Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
ix, 341 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS1884 .M395 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



McFarland presents an appreciative portrait that illuminates the periods Nathaniel Hawthorne lived in the village of Concord, Massachusetts, capturing the flavor and essence of his life, enriched by friendships with Thoreau and Emerson.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Unlike the usual biography focused rigorously on its subject, McFarland's partial life of Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-64) depicts its subject in relation to Concord, Massachusetts, his hometown from his marriage in 1842 onward. He wasn't always resident in the town where the Revolutionary War began--he was away when he died. But Concord, with its literary citizens including Emerson, Thoreau, and the Alcotts, was the home he returned to after the seven-years (1845-52) during which The Scarlet Letter and The House of the Seven Gables finally brought him financial success, and again after seven further years (1853-60) as U.S. consul in Liverpool and, thereafter, an American abroad, principally in Italy. He was highly reclusive and taciturn but not saturnine or misanthropic. His children remembered him as a playful father; his wife, friends, and even brief acquaintances treasured having known him. By contrast with his literary peers--contrasts McFarland points up in incisive recountings of several of their foibles--Hawthorne was uncranky; lovable; and, though his dearest friend was Franklin Pierce, the fourteenth president, essentially apolitical. It would be easy to characterize him as a cool conservative among flaming liberals. McFarland does nothing so crude. Instead, he enters Hawthorne's milieu (his prose even echoes Hawthorne's textures, cadences, and grammar) and illumines it with intelligence and affection. --Ray Olson Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this pleasing biography, seasoned American history writer McFarland (The Brave Bostonians) focuses on two elements that defined New England as the center of America's 19th-century literary world: the village of Concord, Mass. (a center for luminaries like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Bronson Alcott), and the blue-eyed "recluse" able to see "evil in every human heart," Nathaniel Hawthorne. McFarland focuses on the people and ideas that shaped the era as it moved from early industrialization to the turmoil of the Civil War. His short chapters lend themselves to portraits, of politicians Henry Clay and James Knox Polk, and thinkers Horace Mann and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, among others. Aspects of Hawthorne's everyday life are stressed, such as his constant money concerns, which in the 1840s sent him, with his wife and daughter, back to live with his mother and sister, and 20 years later still left him thinking, "I wonder how people manage to live economically." The physical precariousness of 19th-century life is also revealed, in the many examples of diseases and drownings within Hawthorne's family and community. The writer's meaningful friendships are well drawn, particularly with his college chum and future president, Franklin Pierce, to whom he displayed his loyalty by writing a campaign biography. In the end, by depicting his subject's three sojourns in Concord, McFarland illuminates Hawthorne's art and the intellectual ferment originating in that small, bucolic town. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

This year, as literary enthusiasts celebrate the bicentennial of Nathaniel Hawthorne's birth, historian McFarland (The Brave Bostonians) regales readers with this timely account of the author's three separate stays in Concord, MA. Hawthorne first moved to Concord with his new wife, Sophia, in 1842, and the chapters describing their early years there read much like a gripping romance novel. But though Hawthorne published widely in well-regarded journals, he was unable to obtain payments for his stories, and he had to move back in with his mother and take a job in the Salem Custom House. He returned to Concord twice more, raising a family there and mounting a career at the time of the Transcendental Movement and the Civil War. McFarland's brief chapters are filled with quotations, drawing readers into the story. Many books have been written about Hawthorne, but this one's distinctive geographic focus results in an intimate portrait of both a man and his times in the 19th-century Northeast. Recommended for any size academic library. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 3/15/04.]-Jaime Anderson, Cty. of Henrico P.L., VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

The Forties: Learning to be Happy
1 Wedding in Bostonp. 3
2 The Manse and Historic Concordp. 9
3 An End to Solitudep. 17
4 Concord in the Fortiesp. 26
5 Visitors at the Mansep. 33
6 Margaret Fuller and Henry Thoreaup. 40
7 Hawthorne and Emerson Togetherp. 47
8 First Fall at the Mansep. 54
9 Hawthorne's Writingp. 62
10 Two More Weddingsp. 69
11 Rural Utopiasp. 78
12 Seeking a Livelihoodp. 86
13 Unap. 94
14 Women in the Nineteenth Centuryp. 101
15 The Nation Beyond Concordp. 109
16 Leaving the Old Mansep. 117
The Fifties: We are Politicians Now
17 The Waysidep. 127
18 Return to Concordp. 132
19 Concord in the Fiftiesp. 140
20 Two Novelsp. 148
21 Hawthorne and Slaveryp. 157
22 Death by Waterp. 164
23 Creating a Lifep. 173
24 Days at the Waysidep. 180
25 To Washingtonp. 188
26 Departure for Europep. 196
The Sixties: Such a Sad Predicament
27 Once More to Concordp. 205
28 Altering the Waysidep. 213
29 Concord in the Sixtiesp. 221
30 Secessionp. 229
31 Patriotic Americansp. 237
32 In the Sky Parlorp. 246
33 Touring with Ticknorp. 254
34 War Mattersp. 263
35 Family Mattersp. 272
36 Our Old Homep. 279
37 Last Travelsp. 286
38 Releasep. 293
Notesp. 303
Works Citedp. 325
Acknowledgmentsp. 331