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Sophia Hawthorne correspondence with James and Annie Fields

 Collection — Container: MS C.1.11
Call Number: MS C.1.11

Scope and Contents

This collection contains approximately 251 letters written to James Thomas Fields (1817-1881), the publisher and friend of Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864), and his wife Annie Adams Fields (1834-1915), between the years 1851-1904 by members of the Hawthorne family and they document both the personal and professional nature of their relationship. The majority of the letters were written by Sophia Hawthorne (1809-1871), wife of Nathaniel Hawthorne, to Annie Adams Fields between the years 1851 and 1871. In many of the approximately 120 letters to Annie Adams Fields, Sophia discusses the health and daily life of her children, and Hawthorne’s failing health and eventual death. She also includes her opinion of the books she was reading. Mutual friends such as Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894), Mary Porter Hemenway (1820-1897), and George Stillman Hillard (1809-1894) are mentioned. After Hawthorne’s death, Sophia’s focus shifts to financial concerns such as the household budget and the loan made to her by James Fields. The letters to Mr. Fields reflect her new role as editor of Hawthorne’s journals later published as Passages from the American Note-Books and Passages from the English Note-Books, portions of which were first published in the " Atlantic Monthly"in 1866. Of note are five letters about a journal written by Hawthorne at Brook Farm. In addition, she discusses the possible publication of Hawthorne’s children’s book, 20 Days with Julian and Bunny (privately printed in 1904 as Twenty Days with Julian and Little Bunny: A Diary). Also, there are seven letters that contain Sophia’s pen and ink sketches.


  • 1851-1904


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Items in this collection may be subject to copyright restrictions. In most cases, the Boston Public Library does not hold the copyright to the items in our collections. It is the sole responsibility of the user to make their own determination about what types of usage might be permissible under U.S. and international copyright law.

Biographical / Historical

Sophia Hawthorne (1809-1871) was one of the Peabody sisters of Salem who were reformers and supporters of the arts. She was a painter, writer, and editor of her husband Nathaniel Hawthorne’s journals.


251.00 Items

Language of Materials



Arranged chronologically.

Source of Acquisition


Processing Information

Finding aid written by Rare Books and Manuscripts Department staff.

Processing Information

This electronic finding aid is transcribed from legacy data. In many cases, transcriptions were not verified against collection materials at the time of transcription. As a result, this finding aid could be incomplete and might only reflect a partial understanding of the material.

Statement on harmful description

Archival description reflects the biases of time periods and cultures in which it was created and may include direct quotations or descriptions that use inappropriate or harmful language. Creator provided descriptions may be maintained in order to preserve the context in which the collection was created and/or used. Legacy description and potentially offensive content may be made available online until a collection can be reprocessed because the access that they provide to primary source materials is uniquely valuable to the research community at large. Our efforts to repair outdated descriptions and to describe our collections more equitably are iterative and ongoing.
Sophia Hawthorne correspondence with James and Annie Fields
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2014: Updated by Jill Rycerz, 2014.

About this library

Part of the Boston Public Library Archives & Special Collections Repository

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