This presentation copy of Hawthorne’s Snow-Image is one of the most remarkable in our collection. The book is a presentation copy Hawthorne requested of his publishers, Ticknor and Fields, just a few months after its initial release in December, 1851. Hawthorne intended to give the copy to his sister, Maria Hawthorne (commonly called by her middle name Louisa), and had inscribed the book to her. In February of 1852 Hawthorne wrote to Louisa asking her to visit him in West Newton – as an added inducement, she would receive the book.
Louisa Hawthorne began her journey to West Newton by boarding the steamboat Henry Clay, accompanied by her uncle John Dyke. However, while competing in a race on the river, the ship erupted into flames. Nearly fifty of its over 500 passengers died in what notoriously became the worst steam disaster on the Hudson River. Tragically, Louisa was among the fatalities.
This is the book that she never received.