Description

    Hawthorne writes to his publisher: "It takes a man to depict a villain..."

    Nathaniel Hawthorne Autograph Letter Signed. "Nath. Hawthorne". Two pages of a bifolium (writing on the first and third page), 4.75" x 7.25". Concord, Massachusetts; December 11, 1852. Writing to his publisher, James T. Fields. A great literary content letter regarding the perceived influence of an author's gender in character development. In full:

    Concord, December 11, 1852
    My dear Fields,

    I sincerely thank you for Mrs. Newton Crosland's volumes. It has not escaped my notice, that they purport to come from the author herself, but as the inscription is in your handwriting, I rather suspect that you have exceeded your authority in this matter. Mrs. Crosland never had any idea of sending the books, and you know it; So I will not be entrapped into the ridiculous step of thanking the lady for an honor that she never dreamed of conferring on me.

    As yet, I have read only 'Lydia' and I find it the newest book that has come from England, this long while. No woman that I know of has been so true to herself and her sex as Mrs. Crosland. A man could not possibly have ever written this book - which is more than can be said of the great mass of feminine works for they differ from the masculine rather by what they have not, than what they have. But this book is full of positive touches of a woman's handiwork. The character of Uncle Bowring particularly interested me. I would think him an American, rather than an Englishman: at all events, if he has his elder brother in fiction, I am not acquainted with him. I don't think much of Charlton Ridley. It takes a man to depict a villain; and the reason is, I presume that the male writer had only to look within, and there is the original villain ready to be drawn.

    Now, if Mrs. Newton Crosland did really ask you to send us the books, you cannot thank her too warmly on my behalf, nor easily overstate the pleasure which I have had in reading them. My wife has now possession of the volume of tales; and from [illegible word] tokens, I pledge that it meets her august approval.

    Truly Yours
    Nathaniel Hawthorne

    James T. Fields was a partner in the famed Boston publishing house Ticknor and Fields. While his partner William Ticknor focused on the financial aspect of the business, Fields was instrumental in bringing an impressive list of authors to their publishing house, both American and European. Fields and his wife, author Annie Adams, were known to hold regular literary "salons" in their Boston home.

    This letter is offered for the first time at auction, and originates with a collection compiled in the early 20th Century. Together with an envelope addressed to Mrs. Crosland.

    Condition: Smoothed folds, light, even toning, with a few minute spots of foxing. A small area of separation has occurred at the right edge of the horizontal fold.


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    Auction Dates
    April, 2016
    5th Tuesday
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