There is certainly no method by which the shadowy outlines of departed men and women can be made to assume the hues of life more effectually than by connecting their images with the substantial and homely reality of a fireside chair. It causes us to feel at once that these characters of history had a private and familiar existence, and were not wholly contained within that cold array of outward action which we are compelled to receive as the adequate representation of their lives. If this impression can be given, much is accomplished.
Setting aside Grandfather and his auditors, and excepting the adventures of the chair, which form the machinery of the work, nothing in the ensuing pages can be termed fictitious. The author, it is true, has sometimes assumed the license of filling up the outline of history with details for which he has none but imaginative authority, but which, he hopes, do not violate nor give a false coloring to the truth. He believes that, in this respect, his narrative will not be found to convey ideas and impressions of which the reader may hereafter find it necessary to purge his mind.
The author's great doubt is, whether he has succeeded in writing a book which will be readable by the class for whom he intends it. To make a lively and entertaining narrative for children, with such unmalleable material as is presented by the sombre, stern, and rigid characteristics of the Puritans and their descendants, is quite as difficult an attempt as to manufacture delicate playthings out of the granite, rocks on which New England is founded.
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About the Author
Born in Salem, Massachusetts, Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) is one of America's greatest writers. His classic novels include The Scarlet Letter and The House of the Seven Gables, both in the dark romanticism genre, with moral messages and a Puritan influence. He also wrote short stories and non-fiction. Hawthorne, who spent significant parts of his life in The Berkshires and Concord, Massachusetts, was born with the surname Hathorne. He added the "w" to distance himself from his great-great-grandfather John Hathorne, the unrepentant Salem magistrate and chief interrogator of the accused witches during the Salem witch hysteria of 1692.
Date of Birth:July 4, 1804
Date of Death:May 19, 1864
Place of Birth:Salem, Massachusetts
Place of Death:Plymouth, New Hampshire
Education:Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine, 1824