I was initiated into a college secret society-a couple of hours of grotesque and good-humored rodomontade and horseplay, in which I cooperated as in a kind of pleasant nightmare, confident, even when branded with a red-hot iron or doused head-over heels in boiling oil, that it would come out all right. The neophyte is effectively blindfolded during the proceedings, and at last, still sightless, I was led down flights of steps into a silent crypt, and helped into a coffin, where I was to stay until the Resurrection...Thus it was that just as my father passed from this earth, I was lying in a coffin during my initiation into Delta Kappa Epsilon.
He studied civil engineering in America and Germany, was engineer in the New York City Dock Department under General McClellan (1870-72), spent 10 years abroad, and on his return edited his father's unfinished Dr. Grimshawe's Secret (1883). While in Europe he wrote the novels: Bressant (1873); Idolatry (1874); Garth (1874); Archibald Malmaison (1879); and Sebastian Strome (1880).
Hawthorne wrote two books about his parents, called Nathaniel Hawthorne and His Wife (1884-85) and Hawthorne and His Circle (1903). In the latter, he responded to a remark from his father's friend Herman Melville that the famous author had a "secret". Julian dismissed this, claiming Melville was inclined to think so only because "there were many secrets untold in his own career," causing much speculation.The younger Hawthorne also wrote a critique of his father's novel The Scarlet Letter that was published in The Atlantic Monthly in April 1886.
Julian Hawthorne published an article in the October 24, 1886, issue of the New York World titled "Lowell in a Chatty Mood" based on a long interview with James Russell Lowell. Hawthorne reported that Lowell called the Prince of Wales "immensely fat" as well as other negative comments on British royals and politicians. Lowell angrily complained that the article made him seem like "a toothless old babbler".
In 1889 there were reports that Hawthorne was one of several writers who had, under the name of "Arthur Richmond," published in the North American Review devastating attacks on President Grover Cleveland and other leading Americans. Hawthorne denied the reports.