Sarah Orne Jewett House

Nathaniel Hawthorne

Sarah Orne Jewett’s writing has been compared to that of American author Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864), particularly in its New England influence.

Hawthorne grew up in Salem, Mass, but attended college in Maine at Bowdoin, graduating alongside Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in 1824. (Jewett’s father, Dr. Theodore H. Jewett graduated from Bowdoin ten years later, in 1834.)

Hawthorne frequently drew on the history of colonial New England in his work.  

At the beginning of her career, Sarah Orne Jewett wrote to a friend, “It seems very foolish to say my stories are like Hawthorne’s and I wonder why people do! They don’t seem a bit alike to me.” (Letter to Anna Dawes, October 11, 1877)*

Jewett may have realized later in her career that she shared the New England sensibility with Hawthorne. As Jewett wrote in “Lady Ferry” (Old Friends and New, 1879), “One often hears of the influence of climate upon character; there is a strong influence of place; and the inanimate things which surround us indoors and out make us follow out in our lives their own silent characteristics.”

*Box 10, Dawes, Anna Laurens, her correspondence and other papers, Henry L. Dawes Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Transcription by C. Carroll Hollis.