First Edition of Nathaniel Hawthorne's Classic Novel The Scarlet Letter

  • The Scarlet Letter.
  • The Scarlet Letter.

The Scarlet Letter.


Item Number: 15040

Boston: Ticknor, Reed and Fields, 1850.

First edition, with 4 pages publisher’s advertisements inserted between preliminary blanks, dated March 1, 1850. Octavo, original brown cloth. One of only 2500 copies printed. A very good example with to the extremities, rebacked with some rubbing to the bottom of the cloth and short splits along front joint. Housed in a custom clamshell box.

"The most memorable and original aspect of The Scarlet Letter lies in Hawthorne's portrait of Hester Prynne, who has been described as "the first true heroine of American fiction", a woman whose experience evokes the biblical fate of Eve. Hawthorne's achievement is to make her passion noble, her defiance heartbreaking and her frailty inspiring. She becomes the archetype of the free-thinking American woman grappling with herself and her sexuality in a cold, patriarchal society" (The Guardian). The first edition of The Scarlet Letter sold out in ten days and “made Hawthorne’s fame, changed his fortune and gave to our literature its first symbolic novel a year before the appearance of Melville’s Moby-Dick” (Bradley).

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