Digital Commonwealth

Sophia Hawthorne correspondence with James and Annie Fields, 1851-1904

Boston Public Library

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This collection contains letters written to James Thomas Fields (1817-1881) -- the publisher and friend of Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) -- and his wife Annie Adams Fields (1834-1915) between the years 1851 and 1904 by members of the Hawthorne family. The letters document both the personal and professional nature of their relationship with the Hawthornes.

The majority of the letters were written by Sophia Hawthorne (1809-1871) -- wife of Nathaniel Hawthorne -- to Annie Adams Fields between the years 1851 and 1871. In many of the letters to Annie Adams Fields, Sophia discusses the health and daily life of her children, as well as Hawthorne’s failing health and eventual death. She also includes her opinion of the books she was reading, and mutual friends such as Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894), Mary Porter Hemenway (1820-1897), and George Stillman Hillard (1809-1894) are mentioned.

After Hawthorne’s death, Sophia’s focus shifts to financial concerns such as the household budget and the loan made to her by James Fields. The letters to Mr. Fields reflect her new role as editor of Hawthorne’s journals, later published as Passages from the American Note-Books and Passages from the English Note-Books -- portions of which were first published in the "Atlantic Monthly" in 1866.

Of note are letters about a journal written by Hawthorne at Brook Farm. In addition, Sophia discusses the possible publication of Hawthorne’s children’s book, 20 Days with Julian and Bunny (privately printed in 1904 as Twenty Days with Julian and Little Bunny: A Diary).

The collection also includes several letters that contain Sophia’s pen and ink sketches.

Locations in this Collection: