Hawthorne as Editor: Selections from His Writings in the American Magazine of Useful and Entertaining Knowledge

By Arlin Turner; Nathaniel Hawthorne | Go to book overview
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Introduction

Hawthorne became editor of The American Magazine of Useful and Entertaining Knowledge1 with the issue of March, 1836, and with some help from his sister Elizabeth prepared the contents of six numbers. Though the editorship held no great promise, Pierce, Cilley, Bridge, and others of Hawthorne's friends were gratified to see him find profitable employment without turning his back on authorship.2 But the optimism was short-lived. The nature of the publication and the restrictions under which Hawthorne had to work began to gall him early; and further, his meager salary of $500 a year immediately became delinquent.3 Samuel G. Goodrich, who had secured the position for him through his own connection with the publishers, the Bewick Company of Boston, made promises in regard

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1
The magazine was first issued in September, 1834, and, except for September, 1836, when a fire at the plant of the publishers interfered with publication, it appeared monthly through September, 1837. The publishers first called themselves the American Engraving and Printing Company, and then the Bewick Company of Boston, taking the new name from Thomas Bewick ( 1753-1828), the celebrated English wood-engraver (see a note in the magazine for August, 1835 [ I, 507-8]). The Bewick Company was under the superintendence of Abel Bowen (see the issue for August, 1835 [ 1, 508]) and had as members several men who were interested primarily in engraving: Samuel G. Goodrich, Freeman Hunt, J. L. Sibley, William Croome, Alonzo Hartwell, John H. Hall, John C. Crossman, and others. As a consequence the magazine was always in the minds of the proprietors little more than a vehicle for carrying their engravings. The custom seems to have been for some member of the company to serve as editor; and at different times Hunt, Sibley, Goodrich, and possibly others of the proprietors occupied the editorial chair.
2
See George Edward Woodberry, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Boston, 1902, pp. 58-59; Julian Hawthorne, Nathaniel Hawthorne and His Wife, Boston, 1884, I, 133-35.
3
James T. Fields ( "Yesterdays with Authors", Boston, 1872, p. 68) mistakenly sets the salary at $600.

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