Nathaniel Hawthorne was born Nathaniel Hathorne, on July 4, 1804, in Salem, Massachusetts. He was a descendent of John Hathorne, one of the judges in the Salem witch trials. Nathaniel added the "W" in his last name to hide the relationship.
Hawthorne's father died when he was four from yellow fever and the family moved in with his mother's relatives. He began writing when he was sixteen and reluctantly attended Bowdoin College in 1821 on his uncle's money. On the way there, he met future President Franklin Pierce and the two became close friends. Once at the school, he also met poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
In 1836, Nathaniel became the editor of a magazine. He married Sophia Peabody in 1842 and they moved to Concord, Massachusetts, neighboring with Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. They had a long an happy marriage and three children. In 1846, he was appointed to a government position, which did not allow him time to write, but lost his job after the election of 1848, giving him time to write "The Scarlet Letter," which was published in 1850.
After moving to Lenox. Massachusetts, he became friends with Herman Melville, who was writing "Moby Dick," dedicating the book to Hawthorne. It was here that he wrote "The House of Seven Gables." During the Civil War, he met with Abraham Lincoln in Washington, D. C. Nathaniel's health began to fail and Franklin Pierce took him on a vacation in hopes of making him better, but he died while on a tour of the White Mountains, in Plymouth, New Hampshire, on May 19, 1864, at the age of 59. He is buried on "Author's Ridge" in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.