Nathaniel Hawthorne, born on July 4, 1804 in Salem, Massachusetts, was a short story writer and romance novelist. He was best know for his short stories and two widely read novels, considered dark romanticism: The Scarlet Letter (mid-March 1850) and The House of Seven Gables (1851).
A contemporary of fellow transcendalist Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Louisa May Alcott, Hawthorne was part of this prominent circle of Massachusetts writers and philosophers. His work was often set in colonial New England, heavy with the moral content of his Puritan background.
The Scarlet Letter was one of the first mass-produced novels in America and became an instant best seller, selling over 2,500 in the first two weeks. It was praised for its sentimentality and moral purity by the likes of D. H. Lawrence, who said that there could be no more perfect work of the American imagination.
Edgar Allan Poe, a fellow romantic movement author, yet disdainful of allegory and moral tales, wrote important and somewhat unflattering reviews of Hawthorne's stories, though acknowledged Hawthorne's style "is like purity itself." His highest regarded short stories include My Kinsman, Major Molineaux (1832), Young Goodman Brown (1835), and Feathertop (1852). His later writings reflect his increasing disdain for the Transcendentalist Movement.
Hawthorne died in his sleep in 1864 during a tour of the White Mountains in Plymouth, New Hampshire.