Tags: hawthorne and shaw

Blood Will Tell

Every writer needs a spouse or parent this supportive

The first great American novelist, Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in Salem, Massachusetts on July 4, 1804. He was an aspiring writer, working at the custom house in Boston, when he lost his job. (Interestingly, Herman Melville, who wrote Moby Dick, also worked at a custom house, only in New York City.) When Hawthorne came home to tell his wife the bad news, she said, "Now you can write your book." He asked how they would be able to live on while he wrote, and she opened a desk drawer and showed him a pile of gold pieces she'd saved out of the household allowance – $150, enough to cover their expenses for several months. He sat down at once and began work on The Scarlet Letter about Puritan Hester Prynne who has to wear the letter "A" on her chest after she commits adultery. The first edition of 5,000 copies sold out in 10 days.

July 5 is the anniversary of when George Bernard Shaw quit his job in order to write. It took 10 years before he began to make a living as a critic and then began to produce the plays that made his name as a writer. He lived with his mother all that time, and she never complained about supporting him. He later said, "My mother worked for my living instead of preaching that it was my duty to work for hers; therefore take off your hat to her and blush."

Updated to add: The above is a condensed and edited version of several Writers Almanac entries.



site stats

Subscribe with
JacketFlap's
Children's
Publishing
Blog Reader