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Excerpts from Margaret B. Moore's book, The Salem World of Nathaniel Hawthorne, in which she says that "Hawthorne's mother…has been badly misrepresented through the years" (69). (courtesy of the University of Missouri Press)

"Hawthorne's mother, it seems to me, has been badly misrepresented through the years, not least perhaps, as Nina Baym has suggested, by the writer himself. The figure of the recluse who hid herself away after the death of her husband seems unlikely to me. It was the Peabodys who promulgated the recluse idea with a lot of help from Nathaniel, who was attempting to show his intended bride that she had brought him out into the sunlight again. The facts we have simply do not show Elizabeth Clarke Hawthorne as room-bound. Family letters repeatedly mention her health, which had either kept her in her room or had allowed her to come out of her room. When se was well, she was no longer confined. The fact that she was so often ill can be documented too. Over the early years her illnesses were referred to in 1816, 1819, 1820, 1826, 1828, 1829, and 1831… (69).

Also, there were activities in which Elizabeth Hawthorne participated. She joined First Church in 1806. Had she never gone to meeting after her husband's death, surely there would be a mention somewhere. She was very active in Raymond with establishing a Sunday school. She managed to move to Raymond and to supervise a household there. Moreover, she went to Dearborn Street to oversee that home, although she was ill for a while as a consequence of moving" (69-70).



Page citation: http://www.hawthorneinsalem.org/page/11655/


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