Speaks for Itself.
At long last, a Hawthorne family reunion
CONCORD, Mass. (AP) - Nathaniel Hawthorne will soon be reunited with his wife - more than 130 years after they were buried an ocean apart. The remains of Sophia Peabody Hawthorne and their daughter Una will be brought from England and reinterred June 26 in the Hawthorne family plot at Sleepy Hollow cemetery in Concord, where "The Scarlet Letter" author was buried in 1864, The Boston Globe reported Thursday.
Though Hawthorne was known for his Puritan-influenced moralism and melancholy tales, his relationship with Sophia was tender and passionate. They were rarely apart.
"I once thought that no power on earth should ever induce me to live without thee, and especially thought an ocean should never roll between us," Sophia once wrote to her husband.
But that's what happened after Hawthorne's death in Plymouth, N.H., in 1864. Sophia and their three children, Rose, Una and Julian, moved to England, where the family had lived when Hawthorne was in diplomatic service. Sophia died there in 1871 and Una died in 1877. Both were buried at Kensal Green cemetery in London.
Hawthorne's daughter, Rose, returned to the U.S. and started a Catholic order dedicated to caring for cancer patients that became the Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne, based in Hawthorne, N.Y.
For decades, the order has paid to maintain the Hawthorne graves in England. When cemetery keepers told the nuns the grave site needed major repair, the order proposed bringing them to the United States to the Hawthorne's descendants.
"We gave our consent gladly and thought it was an excellent idea," said Joan Deming Ensor, 93, of Redding, Conn., one of Hawthorne's four surviving great-grandchildren.
The order is paying for the transfer with the help of private donations. Grave markers for Sophia and Una have already been placed in the ground in the family plot, which is near the graves of Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson.
A public ceremony will be held June 26 at The Old Manse in Concord, where the Hawthornes lived for a time.
Robert Derry, a park ranger who tends the house the family owned in Concord and is a member of the Nathaniel Hawthorne Society, said reunification of the couple's remains is appropriate.
"At least on a romantic and philosophical level, it is nice that they are coming home," he said. "Hawthorne and Sophia were very much in love, and they stayed in love right to the end."
And how many meals, or how many blankets could have been purchased for the cost of transporting this debris?