Patricia Dunlavy Valenti
Born in 1851 in Lenox, Massachusetts, Rose Hawthorne Lathrop was the youngest child of Nathaniel and Sophia Hawthorne. Lathrop spent part of her childhood in England, Portugal, and Italy, and after the family returned to the Wayside, her father died. Seeking a better life for her children, Sophia Hawthorne moved them first to Dresden, then to England, where she died in 1871. Within months, Rose Hawthorne married George Parsons Lathrop (later to become the editor of Nathaniel Hawthorne's works). The couple returned to the United States and had one child, Francis, whose death in 1881 was followed by their separation for almost a year. Between 1875 and 1892, Lathrop published fiction and poetry. In 1891, George and Rose Lathrop converted to Roman Catholicism, and during the next five years, she abandoned imaginative writing to explore biographical subjects and issues of social justice. In 1896, Lathrop left her husband to found an order of nuns dedicated to the care of indigents dying of cancer. Mother Mary Alphonsa, as she was known for the rest of her life, died in 1926. The Servants of Relief for Incurable Cancer flourishes to this day.
Lathrop's imaginative works may be classified according to genre and theme: fiction for or about children; fiction dealing with the relationships between the sexes; poetry about male-female relationships; and poetry on the subjects of death and grief.
Lathrop's earliest published stories frequently employ children as main char-