University Archives


Nathaniel Hawthorne 2x Signed ALS Discussing His Early Short Story "The Threefold Destiny," Penned Just 3 Months Before His Death

A lovely 2x signed 2pp autograph letter signed by American novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864), the first time signed as "Nath' Hawthorne" at the center of the first page, and the second time initialed as "N.H." at the top of the second page. Written in Concord, Massachusetts on February 4, 1864. The two pages of the letter are framed behind glass on either side of an engraved portrait of Hawthorne. The letter shows expected paper folds, and the bottom horizontal fold of the second page has been professionally restored. Slight ink fading but the handwriting is still legible. Else near fine. Not examined out of the frame. The sight size of the pages is 4.75" x 7.25" while the overall frame size is 21.75" x 13.25" x 1.5." Ex-Kenneth W. Rendell (A label from the Kenneth W. Rendell Gallery, Inc. of New York, New York can be found verso).

In this letter to Henry W. Dommett, Hawthorne notes, “I have copied the passage from the Threefold Destiny according to your request, and shall forward the package by express, tomorrow (Friday) morning.” Hawthorne adds in an initialed postscript that he was unsure whether to send the letter to Dommett in Boston or in New York; he chose Boston. Dommett was the longtime art critic for the "New York Mail" and author of "A History of the Bank of New York, 1784–1884" (1884).
Hawthorne’s story “The Threefold Destiny” was published in his first collection of short stories, "Twice-Told Tales" (1837). In "The Threefold Destiny," protagonist Ralph Cranfield travels around the world seeking out something that he ends up finding in his own hometown. In Charles Francis Richardson's anthology "American Literature, 1607-1885" (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1886), Richardson compares Hawthorne's short story to another of his works: “This idea of the homeward-coming of a world-wanderer was used by Hawthorne in another of his significant stories, ‘The Threefold Destiny,’ in ‘Twice-told Tales.’ This ‘Threefold Destiny’ is really the counterpart of ‘Ethan Brand,’ though we have no indication that the author designed the two to bear a complementary relation.”

Hawthorne died in his sleep three months later, on May 19, 1864 at age 59.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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