In September of the year during the February of which Hawthorne had

completed "The Scarlet Letter," he began "The House of the Seven

Gables." Meanwhile, he had removed from Salem to Lenox, in Berkshire

County, Massachusetts, where he occupied with his family a small red

wooden house, still standing at the date of this edition, near the

Stockbridge Bowl.

"I sha'n't have the new story ready by November," he explained to his

publisher, on the 1st of October, "for I am never good for anything in

the literary way till after the first autumnal frost, which has

somewhat such an effect on my imagination that it does on the foliage

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here about me-multiplying and brightening its hues." But by vigorous

application he was able to complete the new work about the middle of

the January following.

Since research has disclosed the manner in which the romance is

interwoven with incidents from the history of the Hawthorne family,

"The House of the Seven Gables" has acquired an interest apart from

that by which it first appealed to the public. John Hathorne (as the

name was then spelled), the great-grandfather of Nathaniel Hawthorne,

was a magistrate at Salem in the latter part of the seventeenth

century, and officiated at the famous trials for witchcraft held there.

It is of record that he used peculiar severity towards a certain woman

who was among the accused; and the husband of this woman prophesied

that God would take revenge upon his wife's persecutors. This

circumstance doubtless furnished a hint for that piece of tradition in

the book which represents a Pyncheon of a former generation as having

persecuted one Maule, who declared that God would give his enemy "blood

to drink."

It became a conviction with the Hawthorne family that a

curse had been pronounced upon its members, which continued in force in

the time of the romancer; a conviction perhaps derived from the

recorded prophecy of the injured woman's husband, just mentioned; and,

here again, we have a correspondence with Maule's malediction in the

story. Furthermore, there occurs in the "American Note-Books" (August

27, 1837), a reminiscence of the author's family, to the following

effect. Philip English, a character well-known in early Salem annals,

was among those who suffered from John Hathorne's magisterial

harshness, and he maintained in consequence a lasting feud with the old

Puritan official. But at his death English left daughters, one of whom

is said to have married the son of Justice John Hathorne, whom English

had declared he would never forgive. It is scarcely necessary to point

out how clearly this foreshadows the final union of those hereditary

foes, the Pyncheons and Maules, through the marriage of Phoebe and

Holgrave.