Author(s): Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Penguin English Library Edition of The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
'Shame, Despair, Solitude! These had been her teachers, - stern and wild ones, - and they had made her strong, but taught her much amiss'
Fiercely romantic and hugely influential, The Scarlet Letter is the tale of Hester Prynne, imprisoned, publicly shamed, and forced to wear a scarlet 'A' for committing adultery and bearing an illegitimate child, Pearl. In their small, Puritan village, Hester and her daughter struggle to survive, but in this searing study of the tension between private and public existence, Hester Prynne's inner strength and quiet dignity means she has frequently been seen as one of the first great heroines of American fiction.
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Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in 1804 in Salem, Massachusetts. In 1825 he graduated from Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine, and returned to Salem determined to become a writer. He joined Brook Farm, a utopian experiment in communal living, before marrying in 1842. His writing had already secured some success with his Twice-Told Tales, but it was the publication of The Scarlet Letter in 1850 that brought him immediate recognition, followed a year later by by The House of the Seven Gables. He died on a trip in New Hampshire in 1864.