Sophia Peabody to Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Lovers
Sophia Amelia Peabody
was born in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1809, the youngest of three sisters. She and her sisters Elizabeth and Mary were educated by their mother at her small private school. Elizabeth became a famous pioneer of kindergarten education. Sophia, though troubled by ill health for much of her life, was a good painter and a skillful copyist. From 1833-35 she lived in Cuba, in the hope that the climate might there improve her health. She also wrote articles that were published in American journals. After her marriage to Nathaniel Hawthorne she proved a supportive resourceful wife, at one time keeping the family finances afloat by making lampshades. They had three children: Una, Julian, and Rose.
Nathaniel Hawthorne
American novelist and short story writer, was born in Salem, Massachusetts. His father died when he was four. He and his sisters were educated by his uncle, and he then attended Bowdoin College in Maine. By 1842 he had a growing reputation as a short story writer but little income. In a period of unemployment between work for the customs service he wrote The Scarlet Letter (1850), at once hailed as a masterpiece. The novel that followed, The House of the Seven Gables, the story of a curse eventually lifted by love, solidified his reputation as a fine writer. From 1853-57 he served in England as American consul in Liverpool, and then visited Italy with his family. They returned to New England, where Hawthorne died at age 60.

December 31, 1839

Best Beloved,--I send you some allumettes wherewith to kindle the taper. There are very few but my second finger could no longer perform extra duty. These will serve till the wounded one be healed, however. How beautiful is it to provide even this slightest convenience for you, dearest! I cannot tell you how much I love you, in this back-handed style. My love is not in this attitude,--it rather bends forward to meet you.
    What a year has been to us! My definition of Beauty is, that it is love, and therefore includes both truth and good. But those only who love as we do can feel the significance and force of this.
    My ideas will not flow in these crooked strokes. God be with you. I am very well, and have walked far in Danvers this cold morning. I am full of the glory of the day. God bless you this night of the old year. It has proved the year of our nativity. Ha not the old earth passed away from us?--are not all things new?

    Your Sophie

Their Story




Text from
Famous Love Letters
Messages of Intimacy and Passion
Edited by Ronald Tamplin