We are in the midst of sharing 350 years of stories during our grand anniversary year. Thanks to the support of Mass Humanities, we have been able to offer a wide variety of special programming dedicated to Nathaniel Hawthorne—a well-known yet enigmatic icon. Using the study of history, literature, and language, hundreds of visitors of all ages have had the opportunity to learn about the themes that Hawthorne explored during his prolific career and how they translate today.
Hawthorne’s muse for his works was driven by an interest in history and inspiration from his travels. Recent studies about Hawthorne’s life have revealed a complicated man with deep loyalty to his family, yet a yearning to live a life outside of New England’s grip. Sharing this story with a range of interest levels and age groups is challenging. Rob Velella, a noted literary historian and first-person Nathaniel Hawthorne interpreter, kicked off the year offering a Meet the Past walking tour. “Mr. Hawthorne” took visitors to iconic locations around Salem where the author lived, worked, and found inspiration.
In May, The Gables offered a three-day Professional Educators Workshop centered around teaching Nathaniel Hawthorne in a school-setting. Educators from around the Greater Boston area were treated to a keynote presentation by Patricia Dunlavy Valenti, author of Sophia Peabody Hawthorne: A Life. They also experienced Paul Riopelle, an actor and educator who debuted his one-man performance, Meet Nathaniel Hawthorne. After the workshop, Mr. Riopelle shared his talents with a number of local schools as well as the National Park Service, the Concord Museum, and the Trustees’ Old Manse. In September, Paul came back for a repeat engagement at The House of the Seven Gables and collaborated again with local schools.
Our work with the Witch City Writers commenced with a Poetry Workshop for Kids over April Vacation. Young poets were inspired by Hawthorne’s The Ocean as well as a visit from NOAA’s Marine Fisheries outreach program. In July, Hawthorne 101 served as a refresher for the author’s “verbose vocab.” After an engaging morning of activities in the visitor center, attendees enjoyed a photo scavenger hunt around our National Historic Landmark District. On November 3, writers of all abilities are welcome to join us for the last of our Hawthorne programming for 2018, Famous First Lines.