Nathaniel Hawthorne was one of the greatest Anti-Transcendentalist writers of all time. He utilized his writings to express his dark, gloomy outlook on life. Hawthorne, a descendant of a puritan family, was born in Salem, Massachusetts. Some of his ancestors included a judge known for the harsh persecution of Quakers, and another judge who played an important role in the Salem witchcraft trials. Hawthorne's attitude was molded by a sense of guilt, which he traced to his ancestor's actions. After college, Hawthorne lived, secluded, for 12 years in his mother's house. He then published Twice Told Tales which didn't sell very well, yet at the same time, established him as a well known and respected author. .
He became good friends of two Transcendentalist writers of the period -- Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. He also taught the only other Anti-Transcendentalist writer of his period -- Herman Melville. His most popular book, The Scarlet Letter, earned Hawthorne international fame. The period of time during which Hawthorne wrote was the New England Renaissance in America. By the year 1840, it was clear that the American experiment in Democracy had succeeded. England, trying again to retake their old land in 'The Second American War for Independence', was no longer a threat to the survival of the republic. Andrew Jackson, the first "people's president", had served 2 terms in office. New states were entering the Union. One French observer stated that Americans had, "a lively faith in the predictability of man", and that they, "admit that what appears to them today to be good may be superseded by something better tomorrow." There were two types of writing styles during Hawthorne's life -- Transcendentalism and Anti-Transcendentalism. Many of the authors of the period were influenced by the transcendental movement, which was flourishing at the time. Transcendentalists believed that intuition and the individual conscience transcend experience and were therefore better guides to truth than are the senses and logical reason.