Julian Hawthorne: The Life of a Prodigal Son

Julian Hawthorne (1846-1934), Nathaniel Hawthorne's only son, lived a long and influential life marked by bad circumstances and worse choices. Raised among luminaries such as Thoreau, Emerson, and the Beecher family, Julian became a promising novelist in his twenties, but his writing soon devolved into mediocrity. What talent the young Hawthorne had was spent chasing across the changing literary and publishing landscapes of the period in search of a paycheck, writing everything from potboilers to ad copy. Julian was consistently short of funds because--as biographer Gary Scharnhorst is the first to reveal--he was supporting two households: his wife in one and a longtime mistress in the other. The younger Hawthorne's name and work ethic gave him influence in spite of his haphazard writing. Julian helped to found Cosmopolitan and Collier's Weekly. As a Hearst stringer, he covered some of the era's most important events: McKinley's assassination, the Galveston hurricane, and the Spanish-American War, among others. When Julian died at age 87, he had written millions of words and more than 3,000 pieces, out-publishing his father by a ratio of twenty to one. Gary Scharnhorst, after his own long career including works on Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, and other famous writers, became fascinated by the leaps and falls of Julian Hawthorne. This biography shows why.