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Excerpt from Student Companion to Nathaniel Hawthorne by Melissa McFarland Pennell (courtesy of Greenwood Press, 1999) Used with the author's permission

Melissa McFarland Pennell on Hawthorne and authorship in the early 19th century
In the middle decades of the nineteenth century, authorship as a profession changed substantially. Prior to the 1820s, authors depended upon the patronage of wealthy benefactors or the income produced through another profession, such as law or printing, to support themselves. Authorship was still considered an avocation rather than a profession by many. When Hawthorne decided while in college to pursue a career as a writer and to attempt to support himself by his earnings from publication, he was embarking upon a risky venture. The challenges he faced as he attempted to establish his reputation and find an audience provide insights into the changing nature of authorship and the role of literature in American culture. (9)



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