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Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The House of the Seven Gables" is a classic of American literature, written by one of America's greatest writers. First published in 1851, the book is set in a mansion not unlike his cousin's many-gabled home in Salem, Massachusetts, which Hawthorne visited regularly. Hawthorne believed "the wrong-doing of one generation lives into the successive ones" and Hawthorne's story depicts the memorable lives of the residents of the house who were inextricably bound to the sins of their ancestors. Today, the Turner-Ingersoll Mansion is popularly known as the House of the Seven Gables, is on The National Register of Historic Places, and is a museum open to the public.
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.