Hawthorne Bicentennial Exhibition at the Phillips Library

Hawthorne Portrait

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Peabody Essex Museum

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The Phillips Library of the Peabody Essex Museum presents Hawthorne, an interactive exhibition of papers, rare books, artwork, and other objects relating to Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864).

The physical exhibition, which was located in the library’s Sharf Gallery, featured more than a hundred items. It was part of a number of programs and observances occurring in Salem and elsewhere commemorating the bicentennial of the author’s birth in Salem on July 4, 1804. View the Interactive feature.

Hawthorne is among the leading figures of nineteenth century American literature, famous for such works as THE SCARLET LETTER (1850) and THE HOUSE OF THE SEVEN GABLES (1851). He was a contemporary and acquaintance of numerous other notables such as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Franklin Pierce, and Herman Melville. Hawthorne’s family heritage included Salem sea captains and Puritan officials, including Judge John Hathorn, one of  the presiding judges of the infamous Salem witchcraft trials of 1692. His new England roots and experiences, and his sense of puritan morality and character profoundly colored his writing. Hawthorne died on May 19, 1864, while visiting his friend Franklin Pierce in Plymouth, N.H.

The Phillips Library is a major hub of Hawthorne scholarship. In addition to housing numerous original manuscripts, the library’s holdings include papers of Hawthorne’s contemporaries and commentors. The C. E. Fraser Clark Collection of Hawthorniana augments the primary materials, and makes it possible to view all of the American editions and literary criticism of this premier writer. The museum is also home to the 1840 portrait by Charles Osgood of Hawthorne, probably the best known of all the Hawthorne images (on view in the main American Art galleries of the Peabody Essex Museum).
The Exhibition included a sampling of the museum’s most important Hawthorne holdings, including: a bust of the author, by Louisa Lander; papers, portraits, and photographs of family members; original correspondence by and to Hawthorne; a manuscript poem written by Hawthorne at age 12; “The Spectator” a hand-copied newspaper produced in August and September 1820 by Hawthorne and his sister; personal Hawthorne items, such as his wallet, card case, lamp and writing utensils; and a large selection of rare editions of Hawthorne’s works. Hawthorne includes a multimedia kiosk and website focusing on Hawthorne’s boyhood writings.


Voice of Hawthorne: Matteo Pangallo

Producers: James Forrest, Carrie Ives Schluter, Christy Sorensen
Creative Director/Lead Designer/Programmer: James ForrestJimForrest
Katsumi Take, Wilda Mendez
Audio Editing: Mark Keene, Megann Lemieux
Research and Editorial Assistance: Irene Axelrod, Kathy Flynn, Marla Gearhart , Christine Michelini, Emily Murphy, Carrie Ives Schluter, Ruth Stewart, Melanie Tossell.
Photography: Jeff Dykes