Since October is upon us, and Halloween is rapidly approaching, let’s talk about how a totally famous author who wrote some pretty creepy stuff bit the dust right in our backyard!
Puritanically obsessed Nathaniel Hawthorne, author of The Scarlet Letter, The House of the Seven Gables, Young Goodman Brown and many other dark tales, originated from one of the spookiest spots in the United States: Salem, Massachusetts. (That’s a spooky story for another time.) However, Hawthorne ventured here to good ol’ Plymouth, NH at the end of his life hoping the fresh air would cure him of his ills. And who accompanied him to the gateway to the White Mountains…?
None other than Franklin Pierce, a good college buddy of Hawthorne’s and previous president of the United States of America! While Hawthorne didn’t spend too much time in Plymouth (and he certainly didn’t write anything significant here, either), the fact that he was here at all is awesome alone. Here’s a short synopsis of the end of Hawthorne’s life from biography.com:
“After 1860, it was becoming apparent that Hawthorne was moving past his prime. Striving to rekindle his earlier productivity, he found little success. Drafts were mostly incoherent and left unfinished. Some even showed signs of psychic regression. His health began to fail and he seemed to age considerably, hair turning white and experiencing slowness of thought. For months, he refused to seek medical help and died in his sleep on May 19, 1864, in Plymouth, New Hampshire.”
In this article on history.com says that Nathaniel Hawthorne passed on in his room at a hotel called the Pemigewasset House which sadly doesn’t exist anymore. Bummer!
Although…this picture seems to suggest that the Lucky Dog stands where the Pemigewassett House once stood. Curiouser and curiouser.
While Nathaniel Hawthorne may not be buried here in Plymouth, there is a marker on The Common that reads as follows:
In memory of
In this community and adjoining territory he gained inspiration which later reflected in his contributions to American literature.
Died in Plymouth, May 19, 1864
1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, and 1961 classes of
Plymouth High School
All this sad (yet interesting) stuff aside, here’s something funny to end on.