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According to Margaret Moore in The Salem World of Nathaniel Hawthorne (16--17), Hawthorne read voraciously about the past. She believes his historical account to be based on thorough research.

Hawthorne's sketch, "Main-Street," illustrates his grasp of that history. One of the few pieces he wrote while he was surveyor at the Salem Custom House, it first appeared in Elizabeth Palmer Peabody's Aesthetic Papers in 1849 and was collected in The Snow Image and Other Twice Told Tales in 1851... All can be documented in the historical record. Hawthorne had learned it from Thomas Hutchinson or William Bentley, or from Joseph Barlow Felt. His retelling of that history should not be overlooked. (Moore 17) (courtesy of University of Missouri Press)

Page citation: http://www.hawthorneinsalem.org/page/11625/

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