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Hawthorne at Salem

Life & Times

Children's Books

Welcome to the Section on Children’s Books by Nathaniel Hawthorne

"Midas
"Midas' Daughter Turned to Gold" illustration by Walter Crane (opposite p. 62) (courtesy of Terri Whitney)
 
Hawthorne began writing his first children’s stories in 1840 and published them in a volume at the end of that year entitled Grandfather's Chair: A History for Youth. According to one Hawthorne biographer, it was “a woman at the House of the Seven Gables [who] suggested that Hawthorne write about ‘that old chair in the room; it is an old Puritan relict and you can make a biographical sketch of each old Puritan who became in succession the owner of the chair’” (qtd. in Miller 172). The original edition was only 3”x5” as it was designed to fit in the hands of a child. It did not feature any illustrations, but the subsequent printings did.

It was Elizabeth Palmer Peabody, Sophia’s sister, who published these stories when the original publisher, Nahum Capen, withdrew for some reason; Brenda Wineapple reports that it was because of the amount of time it was taking Hawthorne to complete the work (143). Peabody, who seems to have been the one who encouraged Hawthorne to write children’s books, urged Hawthorne to continue the series, which he did, producing Famous Old People: Being the Second Epoch of Grandfather's Chair and Liberty Tree: With the Last Words of Grandfather's Chair, both published in 1841.

While garnering favorable reviews in the Salem press and praise from Margaret Fuller in the Dial as well as from Evert Duyckinck in Arcturus, these works sold few copies. Fuller said about A History for Youth: “We are glad to see this gifted author employing his pen to raise the tone of children’s literature; for if children read at all it is desirable that it should be the production of minds able to raise themselves to the height of childhood’s innocence, and to the airy home of their free fancy” (qtd. in Idol and Jones 47). Fuller does end the review, however, by saying, “Yet we must demand from him to write again to the older and sadder, and steep them in the deep well of his sweet, humorous musings” (qtd. in Idol and Jones 47). After quoting some lines from Grandfather's Chair: A History for Youth, Duyckinck declares, “We might go on and quote the whole volume with pleasure, for never can there be better words on our page than those of Nathaniel Hawthorne!” (qtd. in Idol and Jones 48).

In 1842 Ticknor, Reed, and Fields published another history book for children by Hawthorne, Biographical Stories for Children, which features historical figures such as Benjamin Franklin, Sir Isaac Newton, Samuel Johnson, and the painter Benjamin West. While this work also met with disappointing sales, all of Hawthorne’s children’s tales thus far enjoyed greater success when Ticknor, Reed, and Fields reissued them all under a new title: True Stories from History and Biography.

Hawthorne finished his next book for children, a rendering of mythological tales entitled A Wonder-Book for Girls and Boys, in the summer of 1851, the same time that Melville was completing Moby-Dick. Fields published a version with engravings by Hammat Billings in 1852. As John L. Idol explains in the lecture he prepared for the Hawthorne in Salem Website, this book was published in many editions which featured drawings by highly regarded illustrators such as Walter Crane (1892), Maxfield Parrish (1910), Arthur Rackham (1922), and Valenti Angelo (1927).

The narrator for these tales is Eustace Bright, a student at Williams College; she recounts the Greek myths of Perseus, Midas, and Pandora, among others, to children whom Hawthorne gives names reminiscent of the fairies in A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Milkweed, Buttercup, Sweet Fern, Squash-Blossom, and Periwinkle. Unlike his early children’s books, this book sold well, and so in the summer of 1852 Hawthorne conceived a sequel: Tanglewood Tales for Girls and Boys: Being a Second Wonder-Book, but he did not write that book until November, after he completed the campaign biography for his friend from Bowdoin days, Franklin Pierce.

Tanglewood Tales was published in America in 1853 by Ticknor, Reed and Fields and in England by Chapman and Hall. In this volume Hawthorne presents six myths: “The Minotaur,” “The Pygmies,” “The Dragon’s Teeth,” “Circe’s Palace,” “The Pomegranate Seeds,” and “The Golden Fleece.” Hawthorne seems to have been quite pleased with the result as he boasts that these tales are “’done up in excellent style, purified from all moral stains, re-created as good as new, or better—and fully equal, in their way, to Mother Goose. … I never…did anything else so well as these old baby stories…’” (qtd. in Miller 388). In 1921 the Penn Publishing Company in Philadelphia printed an edition with lovely illustrations by Virginia Frances Sterrett.

Note: In 1837 Hawthorne also edited Peter Parley’s Universal History on the Basis of Geography, a two-volume work published by Samuel G. Goodrich. This book was used by schools, and many copies were sold over a period of twenty years. Peter Parley, a pseudonym, was listed as the author, and the title page said, “For the use of families and schools.” Engraved map illustrations were by A.G. Findlay.

Works Cited

  • Idol, Jr., John L, and Buford Jones. Nathaniel Hawthorne: The Contemporary Reviews. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1994. Web.
  • Miller, Edwin Haviland. Salem Is My Dwelling Place. Iowa City: U of Iowa Press, 1991.
  • Wineapple, Brenda. Hawthorne: A Life. NY: Knopf, 2003.

Literature Related to Hawthorne's Children's Books

"Midas
"Midas' Daughter Turned to Gold" illustration by Walter Crane (opposite p. 62) (courtesy of Terri Whitney)
 

Children's Books by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Tanglewood Tales (1853)

Note: The complete text is linked to the title of each short story.

Images Related to the Children's Books of Nathaniel Hawthorne

Peter Parley's Universal History on the Basis of Geography

Cover of 1867 London edition of <i>Universal History on the Basis of Geography</i> by Peter Parley
Cover of 1867 London edition of Universal History on the Basis of Geography by Peter Parley
 (from Google Books Online)
Full page cover illustration from 1867 London edition of <i>Universal History on the Basis of Geography</i> by Peter Parley
Full page cover illustration from 1867 London edition of Universal History on the Basis of Geography by Peter Parley
 (from Google Books Online)
Title page of 1867 London edition of <i>Universal History on the Basis of Geography</i> by Peter Parley
Title page of 1867 London edition of Universal History on the Basis of Geography by Peter Parley
 (from Google Books Online)

Grandfather's Chair(three parts)(1841)

Illustration from frontispiece to <I>A Grandfather's Chair</I> published in 1880 by Houghton, Osgood and Co., The Riverside Press, Cambridge
Illustration from frontispiece to A Grandfather's Chair published in 1880 by Houghton, Osgood and Co., The Riverside Press, Cambridge
from the Illustrated Library Edition, A Wonder-Book and Grandfather's Chair, two volumes in one 

Cover of Riverside edition of Hawthorne's Grandfather's Chair True Stories from New England history 
\"How to Capture the British Army\" from <i>Grandfather's Chair</i>
"How to Capture the British Army" from Grandfather's Chair
Illustration by Frank T. Merrill from Grandfather's Chair, Riverside Press edition, 1900, Houghton, Mifflin & Co. (courtesy of Dr. John L. Idol, Jr.)
\"A Judgment Seat\" from <i>Grandfather's Chair</i>
"A Judgment Seat" from Grandfather's Chair
Illustration by Frank T. Merrill from Grandfather's Chair, Riverside Edition, Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1900. (courtesy of Dr. John L. Idol, Jr.)
from <i>Grandfather's Chair</i>
from Grandfather's Chair
Illustration by Frank T. Merrill from Grandfather's Chair, Riverside Edition, Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1900. (courtesy of Dr. John L. Idol, Jr.)
Cover of <i>Grandfather's Chair</i>
Cover of Grandfather's Chair
 (courtesy of Dr. John L. Idol, Jr.)
Cover of <i>Grandfather's Chair</i>
Cover of Grandfather's Chair
 (courtesy of Dr. John L. Idol, Jr.)
Cover of <i>Grandfather's Chair</i>
Cover of Grandfather's Chair
 (courtesy of Dr. John L. Idol, Jr.)
Cover of <i>Grandfather's Chair</i>
Cover of Grandfather's Chair
 (courtesy of Dr. John L. Idol, Jr.)
George Fox, Quaker from England
George Fox, Quaker from England
George Fox launched the Quaker movement in England in 1646; he sailed to American in 1671. Hawthorne depicts Fox in a favorable light in Grandfather's Chair, "Grimshawe," and "A Virtuoso's Collection." In "The Gentle Boy," however, Hawthorne points to the fanaticism of the Quakers. (courtesy of Dr. John L. Idol, Jr.)

A Wonder-Book for Girls & Boys

Tanglewood Plaque Commemorating House Where Hawthorne Lived While in the Berkshires
Tanglewood Plaque Commemorating House Where Hawthorne Lived While in the Berkshires
Tanglewood plaque commemorating the house where Hawthorne lived from the spring of 1850 to the autumn of 1851 while in the Berkshires. It is here that he wrote The House of the Seven Gables and The Wonder-Book for Girls and Boys and where his daughter, Rose, was born. The house was destroyed by fire in June, 1890. (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Illustration from frontispiece of <I>A Wonder-Book</I>; published in 1880 by Houghton, Osgood and Co., The Riverside Press, Cambridge
Illustration from frontispiece of A Wonder-Book; published in 1880 by Houghton, Osgood and Co., The Riverside Press, Cambridge
from the Illustrated Library Edition, A Wonder-Book and Grandfather's Chair, two volumes in one 
Cover of Hawthorne's <I>A Wonder Book</I>
Cover of Hawthorne's A Wonder Book
Illustrated by Arthur Rackham,published by Doubleday, Doran, & Company, Inc. in 1928  (courtesy of Anne Tullson)
Title page of Hawthorne's <I>Wonder Book</I>
Title page of Hawthorne's Wonder Book
Illustrated by Arthur Rackham,published by Doubleday, Doran, & Company, Inc. in 1928 (courtesy of Anne Tullson)
Preface to Hawthorne's <I>A Wonder Book</I>
Preface to Hawthorne's A Wonder Book
Illustrated by Arthur Rackham,published by Doubleday, Doran, & Company, Inc. in 1928 (courtesy of Anne Tullson)
Page one of Table of Contents from Hawthorne's <I>Wonder Book</I>
Page one of Table of Contents from Hawthorne's Wonder Book
Illustrated by Arthur Rackham,published by Doubleday, Doran, & Company, Inc. in 1928 (courtesy of Anne Tullson)
Page two of Table of Contents of Hawthorne's <I>A Wonder Book</I>
Page two of Table of Contents of Hawthorne's A Wonder Book
Illustrated by Arthur Rackham,published by Doubleday, Doran, & Company, Inc. in 1928 (courtesy of Anne Tullson)
<I>A Wonder Book</I>
A Wonder Book
Page one of list of Illustrations from Hawthorne's Wonder Book illustrated by Arthur Rackham, published by Doubleday,Doran,& Co. (courtesy of Anne Tullson)
<i>A Wonder- Book for Girls and Boys</i> illustrated by Arthur Rackham
A Wonder- Book for Girls and Boys illustrated by Arthur Rackham
Page two of list of Illustrations from Hawthorne's A Wonder- Book for Girls and Boys illustrated by Arthur Rackham (courtesy of Anne Tullson)
\"Every flower changed to gold\" from the frontispiece of Hawthorne's <I>Wonder Book</I>
"Every flower changed to gold" from the frontispiece of Hawthorne's Wonder Book 
Illustrated by Arthur Rackham,published by Doubleday, Doran, & Company, Inc. in 1928  (courtesy of Anne Tullson)
\"Danae clasped her child closely\" from \"The Gorgon's Head\" in Hawthorne's <I>Wonder Book</I>
"Danae clasped her child closely" from "The Gorgon's Head" in Hawthorne's Wonder Book 
Illustrated by Arthur Rackham,published by Doubleday, Doran, & Company, Inc. in 1928  (courtesy of Anne Tullson)
\"As Perseus walked along the people pointed after him\" from \"The Gorgon's Head\" in Hawthorne's <I>Wonder Book</I>
"As Perseus walked along the people pointed after him" from "The Gorgon's Head" in Hawthorne's Wonder Book
Illustrated by Arthur Rackham,published by Doubleday, Doran, & Company, Inc. in 1928  (courtesy of Anne Tullson)
\"It struck Midas as rather inconvenient\" from \"The Golden Touch\" in Hawthorne's <I>Wonder Book</I>
"It struck Midas as rather inconvenient" from "The Golden Touch" in Hawthorne's Wonder Book
Illustrated by Arthur Rackham,published by Doubleday, Doran, & Company, Inc. in 1928  (courtesy of Anne Tullson)
\"Little Marygold was a golden statue!\" from \"The Golden Touch\" in Hawthorne's <I>Wonder Book</I>
"Little Marygold was a golden statue!" from "The Golden Touch" in Hawthorne's Wonder Book
Illustrated by Arthur Rackham,published by Doubleday, Doran, & Company, Inc. in 1928  (courtesy of Anne Tullson)
\"There was no danger nor trouble of any kind\" from \"The Paradise of Children\" in Hawthorne's <I>Wonder Book</I>
"There was no danger nor trouble of any kind" from "The Paradise of Children" in Hawthorne's Wonder Book
Illustrated by Arthur Rackham,published by Doubleday, Doran, & Company, Inc. in 1928  (courtesy of Anne Tullson)
\"Oh what a good time was that to be alive in\" from Hawthorne's <I>Wonder Book</I>
"Oh what a good time was that to be alive in" from Hawthorne's Wonder Book
Illustrated by Arthur Rackham,published by Doubleday, Doran, & Company, Inc. in 1928  (courtesy of Anne Tullson)
\"A sudden swarm of winged creatures brushed past her\" from Hawthorne's <I>Wonder Book</I>
"A sudden swarm of winged creatures brushed past her" from Hawthorne's Wonder Book
Illustrated by Arthur Rackham,published by Doubleday, Doran, & Company, Inc. in 1928  (courtesy of Anne Tullson)
\"Twining wreaths of flowers\" from Hawthorne's <I>Wonder Book</I>
"Twining wreaths of flowers" from Hawthorne's Wonder Book
Illustrated by Arthur Rackham,published by Doubleday, Doran, & Company, Inc. in 1928  (courtesy of Anne Tullson)
\"They have sea-green hair\" from Hawthorne's <I>Wonder Book</I>
"They have sea-green hair" from Hawthorne's Wonder Book
Illustrated by Arthur Rackham,published by Doubleday, Doran, & Company, Inc. in 1928  (courtesy of Anne Tullson)
\"The Old Man of the Sea\" from Hawthorne's <I>Wonder Book</I>
"The Old Man of the Sea" from Hawthorne's Wonder Book
Illustrated by Arthur Rackham,published by Doubleday, Doran, & Company, Inc. in 1928  (courtesy of Anne Tullson)
\"Hercules gave a great shrug of his shoulder\" from Hawthorne's <I>Wonder Book</I>
"Hercules gave a great shrug of his shoulder" from Hawthorne's Wonder Book
Illustrated by Arthur Rackham,published by Doubleday, Doran, & Company, Inc. in 1928  (courtesy of Anne Tullson)
\"A scaly set of rascals\" from Hawthorne's <I>Wonder Book</I>
"A scaly set of rascals" from Hawthorne's Wonder Book
Illustrated by Arthur Rackham,published by Doubleday, Doran, & Company, Inc. in 1928  (courtesy of Anne Tullson)
\"'I'm old Philemon,' murmured the oak\" from Hawthorne's <I>Wonder Book</I>
"'I'm old Philemon,' murmured the oak" from Hawthorne's Wonder Book
Illustrated by Arthur Rackham,published by Doubleday, Doran, & Company, Inc. in 1928  (courtesy of Anne Tullson)
\"Its three heads spluttering fire\" from Hawthorne's <I>Wonder Book</I>
"Its three heads spluttering fire" from Hawthorne's Wonder Book
Illustrated by Arthur Rackham,published by Doubleday, Doran, & Company, Inc. in 1928  (courtesy of Anne Tullson)
<I>A Wonder Book for Boys and Girls</I>
Cover of the Book, 35th edition, Riverside Press, Houghton Mifflin
A Wonder Book for Boys and Girls Cover of the Book, 35th edition, Riverside Press, Houghton Mifflin
engravings by Baker from designs by Billings (Photography by Joseph R. Modugno)
Cover of Hawthorne's <I>Wonder-Book for Girls and Boys</I>
Cover of Hawthorne's Wonder-Book for Girls and Boys
Houghton Mifflin, Riverside Series, 1883 (courtesy of Mary Jane Goldthwaite)
Title Page of Hawthorne's <I>Wonder-Book for Girls and Boys</I>
Title Page of Hawthorne's Wonder-Book for Girls and Boys
Houghton Mifflin, Riverside Series, 1993 (courtesy of Mary Jane Goldthwaite)
Frontispiece, Hawthorne's <I>Wonder-Book for Girls and Boys</I>
Frontispiece, Hawthorne's Wonder-Book for Girls and Boys
Houghton Mifflin, Riverside Series, 1883 (courtesy of Mary Jane Goldthwaite)
Table of Contents, Page 1, Hawthorne's <I>Wonder-Book for Girls and Boys</I>
Table of Contents, Page 1, Hawthorne's Wonder-Book for Girls and Boys
Houghton Mifflin, Riverside Series, 1883 (courtesy of Mary Jane Goldthwaite)
Table of Contents, Page 2, Hawthorne's <I>Wonder-Book for Girls and Boys</I>
Table of Contents, Page 2, Hawthorne's Wonder-Book for Girls and Boys
Houghton Mifflin, Riverside Series, 1883 (courtesy of Mary Jane Goldthwaite)
Cover from <em>A Wonder Book</em>, \"The Favorite Library\" Boston: DeWolfe, Fisk, and Co., n.d.
Cover from A Wonder Book, "The Favorite Library" Boston: DeWolfe, Fisk, and Co., n.d.
 (courtesy of Terri Whitney with special thanks to Jean Hodgin)
Midas' Daughter Turned to Gold (no illustrator named)
Midas' Daughter Turned to Gold (no illustrator named)
Frontispiece from A Wonder Book Boston: DeWolfe, Fisk, and Co., n.d. (courtesy of Terri Whitney with special thanks to Jean Hodgin)
Title page from <em>A Wonder Book</em> Boston: DeWolfe, Fisk, and Co., n.d.
Title page from A Wonder Book Boston: DeWolfe, Fisk, and Co., n.d.
 (courtesy of Terri Whitney with special thanks to Jean Hodgin)
Pandora Lets Out Hope (no illustrator named)
Pandora Lets Out Hope (no illustrator named)
from page 16 of A Wonder Book Boston: DeWolfe, Fisk, and Co., n.d. (courtesy of Terri Whitney with special thanks to Jean Hodgin)
\"King Midas and the stranger in the sunbeam\" from text on page 43 (no illustrator named)
"King Midas and the stranger in the sunbeam" from text on page 43 (no illustrator named)
from page 40 of A Wonder Book Boston: DeWolfe, Fisk, and Co., n.d. (courtesy of Terri Whitney with special thanks to Jean Hodgin)
Cover from <em>A Wonder Book for Boys and Girls</em> with illustrations by Walter Crane, Boston: Houghton Mifflin and Co., 1892
Cover from A Wonder Book for Boys and Girls with illustrations by Walter Crane, Boston: Houghton Mifflin and Co., 1892
 (courtesy of Terri Whitney)
Bellerophon on Pegasus
Bellerophon on Pegasus
Frontispiece from A Wonder Book for Girls and Boys with illustrations by Walter Crane, Boston: Houghton Mifflin and Co., 1892 (courtesy of Terri Whitney)
Title page from <em>A Wonder- Book for Girls and Boys</em> with illustrations by Walter Crane Boston: Houghton Mifflin and Co., 1892.
Title page from A Wonder- Book for Girls and Boys with illustrations by Walter Crane Boston: Houghton Mifflin and Co., 1892.
 (courtesy of Terri Whitney)
Headpiece for \"The Golden Touch\"(46)
Headpiece for "The Golden Touch"(46)
from A Wonder- Book for Girls and Boys, illustrated by Walter Crane, Boston: Houghton Mifflin and Co., 1892 (courtesy of Terri Whitney)
The stranger appearing to Midas (opposite p. 50)
The stranger appearing to Midas (opposite p. 50)
from A Wonder- Book for Girls and Boys, illustrated by Walter Crane, Boston: Houghton Mifflin and Co., 1892 (courtesy of Terri Whitney)
\"Midas' Daughter Turned to Gold\" illustration by Walter Crane (opposite p. 62)
"Midas' Daughter Turned to Gold" illustration by Walter Crane (opposite p. 62)
Crane's influence by Pre-Raphaelite artists is apparent in this celebrated edition of A Wonder- Book for Girls and Boys Boston: Houghton Mifflin and Co., 1892 (courtesy of Terri Whitney)
Midas with the pitcher (opposite p.66)
Midas with the pitcher (opposite p.66)
from A Wonder- Book for Girls and Boys, illustrations by Walter Crane, Boston: Houghton Mifflin and Co., 1892. (courtesy of Terri Whitney)
Decorative endpiece after \"The Golden Touch\" (68
Decorative endpiece after "The Golden Touch" (68 
from A Wonder- Book for Girls and Boys, illustrated by Walter Crane, Boston: Houghton Mifflin and Co., 1892 (courtesy of Terri Whitney)

Tanglewood Tales for Girls and Boys, Being a Second Wonder-Book

Illustration from frontispiece of <I>Tanglewood Tales</I>; published in 1880 by Houghton, Osgood and Co., The Riverside Press, Cambridge
Illustration from frontispiece of Tanglewood Tales; published in 1880 by Houghton, Osgood and Co., The Riverside Press, Cambridge
from the Illustrated Library Edition, a two volume edition entitled Tanglewood Tales and Biographical Stories 
Illustration from p. 2 of <I>Biographical Stories</I>; published in 1880 by Houghton, Osgood and Co., The Riverside Press, Cambridge
Illustration from p. 2 of Biographical Stories; published in 1880 by Houghton, Osgood and Co., The Riverside Press, Cambridge
from the Illustrated Library Edition, Tanglewood Tales and Biographical Stories, two volumes in one 
Hawthorne Table in the Wayside Sitting Room, described in the introductory to Hawthorne's <i>Tanglewood Tales</i>
Hawthorne Table in the Wayside Sitting Room, described in the introductory to Hawthorne's Tanglewood Tales
Hawthorne Table (9)- During the Hawthorne years at The Wayside this room served several functions. From 1852-1853 this room was the Sitting Room for the Hawthorne's. There is a wonderful description of this room in the introductory to Hawthorne's Tanglewood Tales. The dining room table belonged to Nathaniel and Sophia Hawthorne and was sold by their daughter, Rose and her husband, George Parsons Lathrop. The table was sold by the Lathrops in 1883, along with the house, to Harriett and Daniel Lothrop.  (courtesy of the National Park Service)