As a result of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s close friendship with President Franklin Pierce for whom he had written a successful campaign biography, he was appointed United States Consul to Liverpool in 1853. Hawthorne eagerly anticipated his first trip abroad, although he hated to leave his pleasant home in Concord.
During the years Hawthorne was in England, 1853-1858, he did no creative writing, largely because he was too busy with his duties as consul and also because he spent much time touring England, Scotland, and Wales. But he did keep an extensive notebook of his English sojourn, and this journal of 300,000 words, comprising seven manuscript volumes, is what has come down to us as THE ENGLISH NOTEBOOKS.
THE ENGLISH NOTEBOOKS has had a curious history. It was first published posthumously in 1870 as PASSAGES FROM THE ENGLISH NOTEBOOKS, edited by Hawthorne’s wife Sophia. But this edition was a bowdlerized version. To abide by standards of Victorian taste, Mrs. Hawthorne very carefully revised her husband’s manuscripts, superimposing an aura of decorum on the whole book. She made stylistic revisions, deleting colloquialisms or substituting genteel language for Hawthorne’s more commonplace terminology; she omitted passages in which mundane, unsavory, or crude subjects were treated; she withheld passages which were too harsh on England and on various English contemporaries of Hawthorne; and she struck out those...
(The entire section is 1538 words.)
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