Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Nathaniel Hawthorne: A Biography

Nathaniel Hawthorne: A Biography

Milton Meltzer
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 12 to 14
Lerner, 2006   ISBN: 978-0761334590

Many of us have heard of or read The Scarlet Letter but we don't not know much about the man who wrote this moving and classic novel. Nathaniel Hawthorne was a bookish person who carried a great weight on his shoulders from a young age. His forbearers, who came from England and who were of Puritan stock, were involved in the persecution of Quakers in New England, and later one of their number became a judge who condemned several people to death in Salem for the crime of witchcraft. Nathaniel felt the burden of these people's actions sorely and used his writing to try to alleviate himself of some of the shame that he felt.

Soon after graduating from Bowdoin College in Maine, Nathaniel began to write. His early writings were not widely read and he could not make a living from his stories and articles. To support himself, and later his wife and children, Nathaniel worked in a customs house, a job which he did not enjoy but which he did well.

It was an exciting time in the world of literature, and Nathaniel met many of the men and women who would have a profound effect on society and the world of books. These included Herman Melville, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Henry David Thoreau. Unfortunately Nathaniel struggled for years to make ends meet and he certainly did not get the recognition that he deserved for his writings.

In this comprehensive biography, Milton Meltzer – who has written numerous excellent biographies for young readers – describes the life of a writer whose story is not widely known. Readers will not only learn about Nathaniel Hawthorne's life, but they will also become familiar with the exciting and rapidly changing world that he was a part of.