Eleven Opening Lines by Nathaniel Hawthorne Proffered Without Further Comment

Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Scarlet Letter

The founders of a new colony, whatever Utopia of human virtue and happiness they might originally project, have invariably recognised it among their earliest practical necessities to allot a portion of the virgin soil as a cemetery, and another portion as the site of a prison

The House of the Seven Gables

Haflway down a by-street of one of our New England towns stands a rusty wooden house, with seven acutely peaked gables, facing towards various points of the compass, and a huge, clustered chimney in the midst.

The Blithedale Romance

The evening before my departure for Blithedale, I was returning to my bachelor apartments, after attending the wonderful exhibition of the Veiled Lady, when an elderly man of rather shabby appearance met me in an obscure part of the street.


In an ancient though not very populous settlement, in a retired corner of one of the New England States, arise the walls of a seminary of learning, which, for the convenience of a name, shall be entitled “Harley College.”


In some old magazine or newspaper I recollect a story, told as truth, of a man—let us call him Wakefield—who absented himself for a long time from his wife.

The Great Carbuncle

At nightfall, once in the olden time, on the rugged side of Crystal Hills, a party of adventurers were refreshing themselves, after a toilsome and fruitless quest for the Great Carbuncle.

Lady Eleanore’s Mantle

Not long after Colonel Shute had assumed the government of Massachusetts Bay, now nearly a hundred and twenty years ago, a young lady of rank and fortune arrived from England, to claim his protection as her guardian.

Old Esther Dudley

The hour had come—the hour of defeat and humiliation—when Sir William Howe was to Passover the threshold of Providence House, and embark, with no such triumphal ceremonies as he once promised himself, on board the British fleet.

Peter Goldwaite’s Treasure

“And so, Peter, you won’t even consider of the business?” said Mr. John Brown, buttoning surtout over the snug rotundity of his person, and drawing on his gloves.

Endicott and the Red Cross

At noon of an autumnal day, more than two centuries ago, the English colors were displayed by the standard-bearer of the Salem trainband, which had mustered for martial exercise under the orders of John Endicott.

The Birthmark

In the latter part of the last century there lived a man of science, an eminent proficient in every branch of natural philosophy, who not long before our story opens had made experience of a spiritual affinity more attractive than any chemical one.

Compiled by Richard W. Bray

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