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Twenty Days with Julian and Little Bunny by Papa

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On July 28, 1851, Nathaniel Hawthorne's wife Sophia and daughters Una and Rose left their house in Western Massachusetts to visit relatives near Boston. Hawthorne and his five-year-old son Julian stayed behind. How father and son got along over the next three weeks is the subject of this tender and funny extract from Hawthorne's notebooks.

"At about six o'clock I looked over the edge of my bed and saw that Julian was awake, peeping sideways at me." Each day starts early and is mostly given over to swimming and ...

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On July 28, 1851, Nathaniel Hawthorne's wife Sophia and daughters Una and Rose left their house in Western Massachusetts to visit relatives near Boston. Hawthorne and his five-year-old son Julian stayed behind. How father and son got along over the next three weeks is the subject of this tender and funny extract from Hawthorne's notebooks.

"At about six o'clock I looked over the edge of my bed and saw that Julian was awake, peeping sideways at me." Each day starts early and is mostly given over to swimming and skipping stones, berry-picking and subduing armies of thistles. There are lots of questions ("It really does seem as if he has baited me with more questions, references, and observations, than mortal father ought to be expected to endure"), a visit to a Shaker community, domestic crises concerning a pet rabbit, and some poignant moments of loneliness ("I went to bed at about nine and longed for Phoebe"). And one evening Mr. Herman Melville comes by to enjoy a late-night discussion of eternity over cigars.

With an introduction by Paul Auster that paints a beautifully observed, intimate picture of the Hawthornes at home, this little-known, true-life story by a great American writer emerges from obscurity to shine a delightful light upon family life—then and now.

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Editorial Reviews

The Los Angeles Times
In the unpretentious little volume, Twenty Days With Julian and Little Bunny by Papa — with an excellent introduction by novelist Paul Auster — the remote author of The Scarlet Letter suddenly springs alive as a doting, often exasperated father trying to cope with his frisky 5-year-old son. — Brenda Wineapple
Publishers Weekly
This charming extract from Nathaniel Hawthorne's American Notebooks is, as described by Paul Auster in his introduction, "something that no writer had ever attempted before [Hawthorne]: a meticulous, blow-by-blow account of a man taking care of a young child by himself." When his wife and daughters went away on a three-week visit, Hawthorne stayed home with five-year-old Julian. The writer's musings on this adventure are, in Auster's words, "at once comic, self-deprecatory, and vaguely befuddled," as he discovers how insistent a child's needs are, and how boundless his energy. They take walks to the lake and play with their pet rabbit; Hawthorne tends to a wasp sting, tries to tame unruly hair and discovers the pleasure of finally putting the "old gentleman" to bed after a long day during which it was "impossible to write, read, think, or even to constant are his appeals to me." Unusual evidence, if any were needed, that a writer does indeed need a room of his (or her) own. B&w illus. (June) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590170427
  • Publisher: New York Review Books
  • Publication date: 5/5/2003
  • Series: New York Review Books Classics Series
  • Pages: 74
  • Sales rank: 1,438,849
  • Product dimensions: 5.24 (w) x 7.30 (h) x 0.56 (d)

Meet the Author

Nathaniel Hawthorne
"Words -- so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them," Nathaniel Hawthorne once reflected. Hawthorne's own words indeed had an undeniable power. Author of The Scarlet Letter and originator of the American short story, Hawthorne left an indelible impression on literature that would influence his fellow writers into the next century.


Nathaniel Hathorne, Jr., was born into an established New England puritan family on Independence Day, 1804, in Salem, Massachusetts. After the sudden death of his father, he and his mother and sisters moved in with his mother's family in Salem. Nathaniel's early education was informal; he was home-schooled by tutors until he enrolled in Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine.

Uninterested in conventional professions such as law, medicine, or the ministry, Nathaniel chose instead to rely "for support upon my pen." After graduation, he returned to his hometown, wrote short stories and sketches, and chanced the spelling of his surname to "Hawthorne." Hawthorne's coterie consisted of transcendentalist thinkers, including Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. Although he did not subscribe entirely to the group's philosophy, he lived for six months at Brook Farm, a cooperative living community the transcendentalists established in West Roxbury, Massachusetts.

On July 9, 1942, Hawthorne married a follower of Emerson, Sophia Peabody, with whom he had a daughter, Una, and a son, Julian. The couple purchased a mansion in Concord, Massachusetts, that previously had been occupied by author Louisa May Alcott. Frequently in financial difficulty, Hawthorne worked at the custom houses in Salem and Boston to support his family and his writing. His peaceful life was interrupted when his college friend, Franklin Pierce, now president of the United States, appointed him U.S. consul at Liverpool, England, where he served for four years.

The publication of The Scarlet Letter in 1850 changed the way society viewed Puritanism. Considered his masterpiece, the novel focuses on Hawthorne's recurrent themes of sin, guilt, and punishment. Some critics have attributed his sense of guilt to his ancestors' connection with the persecution of Quakers in seventeenth-century New England and their prominent role in the Salem witchcraft trials in the 1690s.

On May 19, 1864, Hawthorne died in Plymouth, New Hampshire, leaving behind several unfinished novels that were published posthumously. He is buried at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord, Massachusetts.

Author biography from the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of The Scarlet Letter.

Good To Know

Hawthorne's birth name was actually Nathaniel Hathorne. It's rumored that he added a "w" to avoid being associated with his Puritan grandfather, Judge Hathorne -- who presided over the Salem Witch Trials.

Among Hawthorne's peers at Maine's Bowdoin College: author Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Franklin Pierce, who would later become the country's 14th president.

In its first week of publication, The Scarlet Letter sold 4,000 copies.

Hawthorne died on May 19, 1864, at the Pemigewasset House in Plymouth, New Hampshire. Ironically, former president Franklin Pierce had advised him to go there for his health.

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    1. Date of Birth:
      July 4, 1804
    2. Place of Birth:
      Salem, Massachusetts
    1. Date of Death:
      May 19, 1864
    2. Place of Death:
      Plymouth, New Hampshire
    1. Education:
      Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine, 1824

Customer Reviews

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( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 26, 2010

    Best Book I Have Read This Year...

    This is the best book I have read this year. This slim volume comes courtesy of writer Paul Auster who discovered hiding within the pages of Hawthorne's notebooks, the story of twenty summer days from July 28th to August 16th 1851 that writer Nathaniel Hawthorne spent looking after his young son, Julian and his pet rabbit, Bunny (as his wife, Sophia went to visit relatives with the couple's two daughter's, Una and Rose). The trouble starts as soon as young Julian becomes aware that the baby is gone and is free to make as much noise as he pleases, exercising his lungs with screams and shouts. I have given copies of this book to a few expected fathers as it captures both the exasperation and the tenderness that comes with being a Dad. No other writer quite writes about children and childhood the way that Hawthorne so effortlessly does. The book also includes a visit by writer Herman Melville, who charms Julian and smokes cigars and chats with Hawthorne late into the night. Also, for the sake of curiosity be sure to read what becomes of young Julian by checking out the biography, Hawthorne: a Life by Brenda Wineapple.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 30, 2003

    Twenty very enjoyable days with Julian and Bunny

    This is a lovely book - I have only read the Danish translation which unfortunately does not have a photograph of Julian - but I think a lot of people will enjoy the description of the relationship between the very active five year old and his kind and tolerant father - it is amazing that this summer was 150 years ago. It is funny and sweet and while I have always found Hawthorne difficult to read this is not the case here - and the foreword by Auster is perfect to make one understand the book much better. Five stars to both Auster and Hawthorne.

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