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Nathaniel Hawthorne Quotes


Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • Mini Bio
  • Name: Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • Born: 4th July 1804, Salem, Massachusetts, U.S.
  • Died: 19th May 1864, Plymouth, New Hampshire, U.S.
  • Resting place: Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Concord, Massachusetts, U.S.
  • Alma mater: Bowdoin College located in Brunswick, Maine, U.S.
  • Occupation: Novelist and writer
  • Inspiration: The puritanical age of subservience especially of women
  • Trivia: Nathaniel was born with the surname Hathorne but added the 'w' to disassociate himself from his ancestry which included his great great grandfather who was the judge at the infamous Salem witch trials
  • Scroll down for full bio and many great quotes

"Easy reading is damn hard writing"

Nathaniel Hawthorne

"Words - so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them"

Nathaniel Hawthorne

"I do detest all offices - all, at least, that are held on a political tenure. And I want nothing to do with politicians. Their hearts wither away, and die out of their bodies"

Nathaniel Hawthorne

"Every individual has a place to fill in the world, and is important, in some respect, whether he chooses to be so or not"

Nathaniel Hawthorne

"Happiness in this world, when it comes, comes incidentally. Make it the object of pursuit, and it leads us a wild-goose chase, and is never attained"

Nathaniel Hawthorne

"Let men tremble to win the hand of woman, unless they win along with it the utmost passion of her heart"

Nathaniel Hawthorne

"Nervous and excitable persons need to talk a great deal, by way of letting off their steam"

Nathaniel Hawthorne

"What other dungeon is so dark as one's own heart! What jailer so inexorable as one's self!"

Nathaniel Hawthorne

"The world owes all its onward impulses to men ill at ease. The happy man inevitably confines himself within ancient limits"

Nathaniel Hawthorne

"I have not lived, but only dreamed about living"

Nathaniel Hawthorne

"Dream as it is, is more powerful than a thousand realities"

Nathaniel Hawthorne

"Moonlight is sculpture; Sunlight is painting"

Nathaniel Hawthorne

"Happiness is not found in things you possess, but in what you have the courage to release"

Nathaniel Hawthorne

"The wrongdoing of one generation lives into the successive ones"

Nathaniel Hawthorne

"Economics and art are strangers"

Nathaniel Hawthorne

"The thing you set your mind on is the thing you ultimately become"

Nathaniel Hawthorne

"Echo is the voice of a reflection in a mirror"

Nathaniel Hawthorne

"To do nothing is the way to be nothing"

Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Nathaniel Hawthorne Biography

Born in Salem on 4th July 1804 Nathaniel Hawthorne came from a long line of puritans ever since his great great great grandfather William Hathorne emigrated from England. William became a judge in Salem and woe betide any poor soul ever to stand trial in his court as he garnered a reputation for harsh sentencing.

William's son John Hathorne became notorious as the judge who never repented his actions after the infamous Salem witch trials. Nathaniel's father (Nathaniel Snr) followed an old Salem tradition by choosing a life at sea and eventually captained a brig called Nabby which saw him die at the wheel from yellow fever when young Nathaniel Hawthorne was just four years old.

To this day Salem is still infamously remembered for the witch trials and Nathaniel carried a haunted fascination of his ancestry with him that influenced him to focus much of his best novels on ladies who suffered at that hands of their puritanical circumstances.



Hawthornes writing was steeped in dark romanticism and his best works stemmed from the psychological effects of sin, guilt and repentance. He hit a purple patch in the decade beginning 1850 when he penned his most successful books to date. The romantic novels The Scarlet Letter (1850), The House of the Seven Gables (1851), The Blithedale Romance (1852) and The Marble Faun (1860) were to propel Hawthorne to perpetual fame and to be lauded as one of the greatest American novelist of his time.

He started off as a short story writer but soon progressed to novels and he even wrote a biography of his lifelong friend Franklin Pierce who was the 14th president of the United States. Great writers use the page to reflect the colourful tapestry of their mind and they are also great for a quick quip or two, so this is my compilation of 18 of the best Nathaniel Hawthorne quotes.

Quotes About Nathaniel Hawthorne

The novelist Herman Melville described him thus: "I found that but to glean after this man, is better than to be in at the harvest of others"

The literary critic Henry James was impressed to say: "Few men of equal genius and of equal eminence can have led on the whole a simpler life.... Whatever may have been Hawthorne's private lot, he has the importance of being the most beautiful and most eminent representative of a literature. The importance of the literature may be questioned, but at any rate, in the field of letters, Hawthorne is the most valuable example of the American genius"

His wife Sophia Hawthorne, who was a celebrated artist, put bias to one side to dwell on Nathaniel's creative brilliance: "I am always so dazzled and bewildered with the richness, the depth, the … jewels of beauty in his productions that I am always looking forward to a second reading where I can ponder and muse and fully take in the miraculous wealth of thoughts"


Nathaniel Hawthorne quote