The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

July 10, 2016

July 10, 1842

Nathaniel Hawthorne (July 4, 1804 to May 19, 1864) is one of the creators of the New England literary blossoming which may never have been surpassed in American culure. Hawthorne met his future wife on a social visit to the Peabodies, in the company of his sisters including Louisa. 

Nathaniel and Sophia became engaged somewhat quickly, but it was a long engagement.

Nathaniel wrote to her on October 3 1839; he recounts to her the ancient Greek story of a wife who reverts to her cat nature when seeing a mouse.  "Ownest Dove, ...on her bridal night, a mouse happened to run across the floor; and forthwith the cat- wife leaped out of bed to catch it. ....

Hawthorne on July 9, 1842 married Sophia Peabody and they began family life in a secluded house in Concord. Several years later the couple moved and Hawthorne's mother and sisters were accomodated under one (high) roof. But Nathaniel and Sophia's first home was "rented from Emerson, with garden prepared by Thoreau." It was an idyllic if penurious life. 

Hawthorne was always close to his mother and sisters, and in fact wrote to his sister Louisa the day after his wedding.  His son Julian included the letter in a biography: Nathaniel Hawthorne and His Wife: A Biography (1884).

The letter to Louisa, was dated July 10, 1842, and so we know that on the day after his wedding the news he mentioned to his sister is that he wanted a kitten in his new household. In September of that year he would inform the same person that he and Sophia had gotten a kitten.

Louisa would die in 1852 in a steamboat explosion on the Hudson river.

In June 1853, Nathaniel notes the destruction of his letters in his journal: "I burned great heaps of old letters and other papers, a little while ago, preparatory to going to England. Among them were hundreds of Sophia's maiden letters"....

Above are charred scraps of lives.

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