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Sophia Peabody Hawthorne family letters to 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 between the years 1851-1904 by members of the Hawthorne family to James Thomas Fields (1817-1881), publisher and friend of Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864), and his wife Annie Adams Fields (1834-1915), writer and philanthropist. The letters document both the personal and professional nature of the families' relationship.

The majority of the letters were written by Sophia Peabody Hawthorne (1809-1871) to Annie Adams Fields between the years 1851 and 1871. In many of the approximately 120 letters to Annie, Sophia discusses the health and daily life of her children, and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s failing health and eventual death. She also includes her opinion of the books she was reading and mentions mutual friends such as Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894), Mary Porter Hemenway (1820-1897), and George Stillman Hillard (1809-1894). Also included are seven letters containing Sophia’s pen and ink sketches.

After her husband’s death, Sophia’s focus in the letters 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 Nathaniel 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 Nathaniel Hawthorne at Brook Farm. In addition, she discusses the possible publication of Nathaniel’s children’s book, 20 Days with Julian and Bunny which was later privately printed in 1904 as Twenty Days with Julian and Little Bunny: A Diary.

Also included are letters to the Fields from Sophia and Nathaniel’s children, Una, Julian and Rose; Sophia’s sister Elizabeth Palmer Peabody; and Nathaniel’s sister, Elizabeth Manning Hawthorne. The collection also contains one letter to Julian Hawthorne from Annie Adams Fields.


  • 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.

Sophia Amelia Peabody Hawthorne (1809-1871)

Sophia Amelia Peabody 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 Items

Language of Materials



The letters are arranged alphabetically by correspondent, then chronologically within each group.

Immediate Source of Acquisition


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.

Former Title

Collection formerly known as Sophia Hawthorne correspondence with James and Annie Fields.

Guide to the Sophia Peabody Hawthorne Family Letters to James and Annie Fields
Boston Public Library staff
Finding aid created and/or transcribed from legacy inventory prior to 2020.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2014-09: Finding aid updated by Jill Rycerz.

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