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Brenda Wineapple

About This Author
Nathaniel Hawthorne was born on July 4, 1804, in Salem, Massachusetts, the son and grandson of proud New England seafarers. He lived in genteel poverty with his widowed mother and two young sisters in a house filled with Puritan ideals and family pride in a prosperous past. His boyhood was, in most respects, pleasant and normal. In 1825 he was graduated from Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine, and he returned to Salem determined to become a writer of short stories. For the next twelve years he was plagued with unhappiness and self-doubts as he struggled to master his craft. He finally secured some small measure of success with the publication of his Twice-Told Tales (1837). His marriage to Sophia Peabody in 1842 was a happy one. The Scarlet Letter (1850), which brought him immediate recognition, was followed by The House of the Seven Gables (1851). After serving four years as the American Consul in Liverpool, England, he traveled in Italy; he returned home to Massachusetts in 1860. Depressed, weary of writing, and failing in health, he died on May 19, 1864, at Plymouth, New Hampshire.
Brenda Wineapple authored Sister Brother: Gertrude and Leo Stein and Genet: A Biography of Janet Flanner and is currently at work on a biography of Nathaniel Hawthorne.  She is Washington Irving Professor of Modern Literary and Historical Studies at Union College and has appeared on C-Span’s American Writers series.
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Nathaniel Hawthorne was born on July 4, 1804, in Salem, Massachusetts, the son and grandson of proud New England seafarers. He lived in genteel poverty with his widowed mother and two young sisters in a house filled with Puritan ideals and family pride in a prosperous past. His boyhood was, in most respects, pleasant and normal. In 1825 he was graduated from Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine, and he returned to Salem determined to become a writer of short stories. For the next twelve years he was plagued with unhappiness and self-doubts as he struggled to master his craft. He finally secured some small measure of success with the publication of his Twice-Told Tales (1837). His marriage to Sophia Peabody in 1842 was a happy one. The Scarlet Letter (1850), which brought him immediate recognition, was followed by The House of the Seven Gables (1851). After serving four years as the American Consul in Liverpool, England, he traveled in Italy; he returned home to Massachusetts in 1860. Depressed, weary of writing, and failing in health, he died on May 19, 1864, at Plymouth, New Hampshire.
Brenda Wineapple authored Sister Brother: Gertrude and Leo Stein and Genet: A Biography of Janet Flanner and is currently at work on a biography of Nathaniel Hawthorne.  She is Washington Irving Professor of Modern Literary and Historical Studies at Union College and has appeared on C-Span’s American Writers series.
Books by thisAuthor
  • Ecstatic Nation

    Ecstatic Nation
    Confidence, Crisis, and Compromise, 1848-1877
    For America, the mid-nineteenth century was an era of vast expectation and expansion: the country dreamed big, craved new lands, developed new technologies, and after too long a delay, finally confronted its greatest moral failure: slavery. Award-winning historian and literary critic Brenda Wineapple explores these feverish, ecstatic, conflicted years when Americans began to live within new and ever-widening borders, both spiritual and geographic; fought a devastating war over parallel ideals of freedom and justice; and transformed their country, at tragic cost, from a confederation into one nation, indivisible. Populated by idiosyncratic, unforgettable characters such as P. T. Barnum, Walt Whitman, George Armstrong Custer, Horace Greeley, and Jefferson Davis, Ecstatic Nation moves from the vehement debates about slavery through the devastations of the Civil War and its aftermath. It explores the terrible complexities of Reconstruction and the fledgling hope that women would share equally in a new definition of American citizenship, and it traces the lust for land and the lure of its beauty from a frenzied rush to riches to the displacement of Indians. And it looks forward—toward the promise of a more perfect Union for all. A masterful synthesis of political, cultural, and intellectual history, breathtaking in sweep and scope, Ecstatic Nation is a spellbinding tale of America—its glory and greed, its aspirations and humiliations—in this exhilarating and momentous period.

    White Heat

    White Heat
    The Friendship of Emily Dickinson and Thomas...
    White Heat is the first book to portray the remarkable relationship between America's most beloved poet and the fiery abolitionist who first brought her work to the public.  As the Civil War raged, an unlikely friendship was born between the reclusive poet Emily Dickinson and Thomas Wentworth Higginson, a literary figure who ran guns to Kansas and commanded the first Union regiment of black soldiers. When Dickinson sent Higginson four of her poems he realized he had encountered a wholly original genius; their intense correspondence continued for the next quarter century. In White Heat Brenda Wineapple tells an extraordinary story about poetry, politics, and love, one that sheds new light on her subjects and on the roiling America they shared.    

    Hawthorne

    Hawthorne
    A Life
    Handsome, reserved, almost frighteningly aloof until he was approached, then playful, cordial, Nathaniel Hawthorne was as mercurial and double-edged as his writing. “Deep as Dante,” Herman Melville said. Hawthorne himself declared that he was not “one of those supremely hospitable people who serve up their own hearts, delicately fried, with brain sauce, as a tidbit” for the public. Yet those who knew him best often took the opposite position. “He always puts himself in his books,” said his sister-in-law Mary Mann, “he cannot help it.” His life, like his work, was extraordinary, a play of light and shadow. In this major new biography of Hawthorne, the first in more than a decade, Brenda Wineapple, acclaimed biographer of Janet Flanner and Gertrude and Leo Stein (“Luminous”–Richard Howard), brings him brilliantly alive: an exquisite writer who shoveled dung in an attempt to found a new utopia at Brook Farm and then excoriated the community (or his attraction to it) in caustic satire; the confidant of Franklin Pierce, fourteenth president of the United States and arguably one of its worst; friend to Emerson and Thoreau and Melville who, unlike them, made fun of Abraham Lincoln and who, also unlike them, wrote compellingly of women, deeply identifying with them–he was the first major American writer to create erotic female characters. Those vibrant, independent women continue to haunt the imagination, although Hawthorne often punishes, humiliates, or kills them, as if exorcising that which enthralls. Here is the man rooted in Salem, Massachusetts, of an old pre-Revolutionary family, reared partly in the wilds of western Maine, then schooled along with Longfellow at Bowdoin College. Here are his idyllic marriage to the youngest and prettiest of the Peabody sisters and his longtime friendships, including with Margaret Fuller, the notorious feminist writer and intellectual. Here too is Hawthorne at the end of his days, revered as a genius, but considered as well to be an embarrassing puzzle by the Boston intelligentsia, isolated by fiercely held political loyalties that placed him against the Civil War and the currents of his time. Brenda Wineapple navigates the high tides and chill undercurrents of Hawthorne’s fascinating life and work with clarity, nuance, and insight. The novels and tales, the incidental writings, travel notes and children’s books, letters and diaries reverberate in this biography, which both charts and protects the dark unknowable core that is quintessentially Hawthorne. In him, the quest of his generation for an authentically American voice bears disquieting fruit. From the Hardcover edition.

    Sister Brother

    Sister Brother
    Gertrude and Leo Stein

  • Selected Stories

    Selected Stories
    Dark, weird, psychologically complex, Hawthorne’s short fiction continues to fascinate readers. Brenda Wineapple has made a generous selection of Hawthorne’s stories, including some of his best-known tales as well as other, less-often anthologized gems. In her introduction, she explores a writer whose best stories, as Wineapple has elsewhere observed, “penetrate the secret horrors of ordinary life, those interstices in the general routine where suddenly something or someone shifts out of place, changing everything.” The John Harvard Library edition reproduces the authoritative texts of Hawthorne’s stories in The Centenary Edition of the Works of Nathaniel Hawthorne.

    Genet

    Genet
    A Biography of Janet Flanner
    The daughter of an Indianapolis mortician, Janet Flanner really began to live at the age of thirty, when she fled to Paris with her female lover. That was in 1921, a few years before she signed on as Paris correspondent for the New Yorker, taking the pseudonym Genêt. For half a century she described life on the Continent with matchless elegance.

    The House of the Seven Gables

    The House of the Seven Gables
    A tale of an evil house, cursed through the centuries by a man who was hanged for witchcraft, haunted by ghosts of its dead and the terror of its living. Nathanial Hawthorne's works are imbued with a mixture of actual and imaginary and this is an enduring example. The puritanical Jaffrey Pyncheon is the embodiment of Hawthorne's own ancestor, a judge at the Salem witch trials.

    Representative Men

    Representative Men
    Seven Lectures
    Introduction by Brenda Wineapple In 1845 Ralph Waldo Emerson began a series of lectures and writings in which he limned six figures who embodied the principles and aspirations of a still-young American republic. Emerson offers timeless meditations on the value of individual greatness, reconnecting readers with the everyday virtues of his “Representative Men”: Plato, in whose writings are contained “the culture of nations”; Emanuel Swedenborg, a “rich discoverer” who strove to unite the scientific and spiritual planes; Michel de Montaigne, “the frankest and honestest of all writers”; William Shakespeare, who “wrote the text of modern life”; Napoleon Bonaparte, who had the “virtues and vices” of common men writ large; and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who “in conversation, in calamity…finds new materials.” This Modern Library Paperback Classic reflects the author’s corrections for an 1876 reprinting. From the Trade Paperback edition.

  • 19th Century American Writers on Writing

    19th Century American Writers on Writing
    Nineteenth-Centuery American Writers on Writing features essays, letters, poems, prose, and excerpts of interviews by fifty-seven leading authors of the century. Each had to figure out what it meant to be a writer within the context of the relatively new nation they spoke to, for, and about. Each meditated on craft and style and form, as writers do. And each confronted the question of how to define themselves as writers—and their literature as “American”—during a century rocked by the industrial revolution, the Civil War, and the emergence of a global politic.

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