May 2014 | Rebecca Rego Barry

Hawthorne on Other Writers' Houses

152478_0.jpgIf only Nathaniel Hawthorne had a better address book! In this brief letter, dated March 4, 1852, Hawthorne writes to William H. Adams at Amherst College, providing direction as to where to find the residences of historian George Bancroft, poet Fitz-Greene Halleck, and satirist/Secretary of the Navy James Kirke Paulding. He writes, "Bancroft and Halleck live in New York, and so, I think, does Paulding. I do not know where Mayo (?) resides, but a letter would probably reach him through his publisher, G.P. Putnam, of New York. Duane (?) lives in Boston, except during the _____? season."

According to PBA Galleries, which is offering the note at auction tomorrow for an estimated $5,000-8,000, it is "a letter significant for its associations, one of the leading American authors of the 19th century making reference to the homes of his literary associates."

Coincidentally, according to John Hardy Wright's book, Hawthorne's Haunts in New England, Hawthorne finalized his purchase of the Alcotts' home in Concord, Massachusetts, only four days later. Were other writers' houses on his mind? He had been living in the borrowed West Newton, Massachusetts, home of Horace Mann and Mary Peabody Mann while writing The Blithedale Romance. In June, the Hawthornes moved out to "The Wayside," which the family kept until 1870.

Image via PBA Galleries.