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University of Iowa News Release


June 13, 2007

New UI Press Book Probes Life Of A Notorious Dark Romanticist

"Hawthorne in His Own Time," co-edited by Ronald Bosco and Jillmarie Murphy, is now available from the University of Iowa Press as part of its Writers in Their Own Time series.

The book is available directly from the UI Press by phone at 800-621-2736 or online at, and is also available June 15 from bookstores and online retailers. In the United Kingdom, Europe, the Middle East, or Africa, contact Eurospan by phone, +44 (0) 1767 604972, by fax +44 (0) 1767 601640, or online at

At his death, Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) was acknowledged in America and England as "the Great Romancer." Novels including "The Scarlet Letter" and "The House of the Seven Gables" and stories collected in "Twice-Told Tales" continue to capture the minds and imaginations of readers and critics to this day.

Harder to capture, however, are the character and personality of the man himself. So few of the essays that appeared in the two years after his death offered new insights into his life, art and reputation that Hawthorne seemed fated to premature obscurity or, at least, permanent misrepresentation.

This collection of personal reminiscences by those who knew Hawthorne intimately -- or knew about him through reliable secondary sources -- aims to rescue him from these confusions and provide the real human history behind the successful writer.

Remembrances from Elizabeth Peabody, Sophia Hawthorne, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Bronson Alcott, Rebecca Harding Davis and 20 others collected in "Hawthorne in His Own Time" follow him from his childhood in Salem through his years of initial literary obscurity, his days in the Boston and Salem Custom Houses, his service as U.S. Consul to Liverpool and Manchester and his life in the Anglo-American communities at Rome and Florence to his late years as the "Great Romancer."

In their introduction, Bosco and Murphy assess the postmortem building of Hawthorne's reputation as well as his relationship to the prominent Transcendentalists, spiritualists, Swedenborgians and other personalities of his time.

"'Hawthorne in His Own Time' is better than a biography: It provides canny first-hand accounts of an author often considered unknowable, along with key literary assessments of the era, allowing readers to sift through the evidence and form their own judgments," wrote Megan Marshall, author of "The Peabody Sisters: Three Women Who Ignited American Romanticism." "Students, scholars, and lovers of the Great Romancer's work will all find much of value in this collection of gems."

Bosco is Distinguished Professor of English and American Literature at the University at Albany, State University of New York, and general editor for "The Collected Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson." One of his many books is "Emerson in His Own Time" from the UI Press.

Murphy is professor of literature and writing at Schenectady County Community College in New York.

The Writers in their Own Time series, edited by Joel Myerson, provides first-hand accounts -- published and unpublished, adulatory and critical -- written by both famous and forgotten contemporaries, in order to make the lives of writers better understood and more accessible to scholars, students and general readers.

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STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

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