SALEM — Writers, like the rest of us, keep secrets and Nathaniel Hawthorne was no exception. He burned his wife Sofia’s love letters to him and he, in turn, asked his close friend Herman Melville to burn the letters he wrote to Melville. He protected his privacy. Had Hawthorne been living today, he would not likely post to Facebook.
It’s no surprise that it took author Mark Beauregard six years to research Melville and Hawthorne’s work and archives to reach a point where he was ready to write his newly published historical novel, “The Whale: A Love Story.” Secrets rarely reside on the surface of things and stories require time and thought to take on dimension.
On Wednesday, June 22, Beauregard will present “Hawthorne’s Secret,” a Seven Lectures at Seven Gables event. Perhaps even Hawthorne may not have fully understood the secret Beauregard discovered. “Hawthorne’s creative output soared when he and Melville were neighbors and friends in Lenox, Mass.,” says Beauregard. “He was outrageously productive.” Beauregard’s findings begin with facts and conclude with inferences, living between the lines but difficult to refute.
The two friends and neighbors spoke often of literature, God and religion. Beauregard says they cross-pollinated each other’s work with ideas, passion and energy. This creative simpatico, this energized period of productivity spurred by Melville, says Beauregard, is Hawthorne’s secret. It was the most productive period in Hawthorne’s life — “an incredible spasm of activity.” Until then, says Beauregard, Hawthorne was renowned for being a slow writer.
Did Melville, in turn, have a secret? “Hawthorne was Melville’s white whale,” says Beauregard. And thus, Beauregard’s novel, told from Melville’s point of view.
The House of the Seven Gables is the ideal place for this discussion of the cross-pollination between the two great American writers. When Caroline Emmerton founded The House of the Seven Gables Settlement Association, she did so because she believed in the work of Nathaniel Hawthorne and the perpetual draw of his name and his iconic works of fiction.
Join The Gables for the Seven Lectures at Seven Gables Series on Wednesday, June 22 at 6 p.m., 115 Derby St., Salem, Massachusetts, in the Visitor Center. The cost is $7 for nonmembers and free for members. Parking is available, though limited. Members are also invited to a pre-lecture meet-and-greet with author Mark Beauregard beginning at 5:15 p.m. A book signing will follow the lecture. To register for either event, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 978-744-0991, ext. 104.
Mark Beauregard has been a journalist, magazine editor and, most recently, manager of nonprofit arts and community organizations. He has lived in many places throughout the United States and in Europe and currently resides in Tucson, Arizona.
About The House of the Seven Gable Settlement Association
The mission of the House of the Seven Gables Settlement Association is to preserve our National Historic Landmark and leverage its power as an icon of American culture to engage diverse audiences and provide education opportunities for our local immigrant community. For more information visit www.7gables.org.