Nathaniel Hawthorne was an American writer who today is considered one of the most extraordinary fiction authors in the history of American Literature. Hawthorne was born in Salem Massachusetts on July 4, 1804 to a notable family with ancestors that had been some of the first Puritan settlers in New England. His great-great-Grandfather was John Hathorne, who was one of the judges in the infamous Salem Witch Trials and mercilessly sentenced many innocent people to their deaths ("Nathaniel Hawthorne - Biography"). Despite living a very different life, his ancestor's involvement in the events of the trials had a very significant impact on Hawthorne. Originally the family name was "Hathorne"; however, he later added a "W" in order to set himself apart from his family legacy ("Nathaniel Hawthorne").
When Hawthorne was four years old, his father, who was a sea captain (also named Nathaniel), died of yellow fever. His mother, Elizabeth Manning Hathorne, could not manage 3 young children on her own and moved the family to his uncle Manning's house where he spent the remainder of his youth. When Nathaniel was 9-years-old, he injured his foot and was unable to walk or attend school for a very long period. He spent the majority of his time reading in his room, which prompted the development of his extreme interest in books and exceedingly shy personality ("Nathaniel Hawthorne").
In 1821, Hawthorne began attending Bowdoin College (funded by his uncle); however, he did not hold much interest in traditional schooling and focused primarily on studying literature (Turner). Knowing already that he wanted to be an author, he stated; "I do not want to be a doctor and live by men's diseases, nor a minister to live by their sins, nor a lawyer to live by their quarrels. So, I don't see that there is anything left for me but to be an author (qt. in "Nathaniel Hawthorne - Biography").