Tuesday, 16 March 2010
On this day...
Nathaniel Hawthorne's 'The Scarlet Letter', was published in 1850. The book was originally intended to be a novelette as part of the collection 'Old Time Legends', yet on the advice of his publisher, Hawthorne expanded the work. Many of Hawthorne's more puritan ancestors presided over the Salem witch trials, and indeed the guilt of this association appears to influence the novel's overwhelming theme of sin.
The book is thought to be one of America's first mass-produced books, and the 2,500 copies from its first print sold out within ten days.Although the book was a instant bestseller, it only made its author $1,500 during the course of fourteen years. Hawthorne's 'magnus opus' was described by Henry James as 'beautiful, admirable, extraordinary; it has in the highest degree that merit'.