THE PROFESSION OF AUTHORSHIP: NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE AND HIS PUBLISHER, JAMES T. FIELDS
FISK, ROSEMARY MIMS
Doctor of Philosophy
The influence of James T. Fields upon Nathaniel Hawthorne's professional literary career has not been recognized. Before 1850, the year marking the beginning of Hawthorne's association with the firm of Ticknor & Fields, Hawthorne knew only the "buck-shot" approach to publishing. He had no publisher actively promoting his works in the marketplace or encouraging his creative genius. Moreover, he was uncomfortable participating in a profession that many regarded as "feminine." Fields, by contrast, experienced success as a businessman, working his way up to a partnership in the firm by his acute knowledge of the reading public, and by his extensive network of contacts with authors, editors, critics, newspapermen, and fellow publishers. The correspondence between Hawthorne and Fields indicates how extensively Fields was involved in the manuscript preparation and final publication of The Scarlet Letter and The House of the Seven Gables, all the while working to bring out reissues of the author's previously-published works. As Hawthorne's exclusive publisher, Fields effectively took over the author's finances, an arrangement which freed Hawthorne of monetary concerns but which brought with it ambiguities. The relationship between the two men became polarized along active and passive, masculine and feminine lines as Fields sought to keep Hawthorne at home writing. Hawthorne's vocational anxieties and his awareness of the marketplace affect the writing of The House of the Seven Gables, a work which reveals the same ambiguities that the author does personally. The Blithedale Romance, written while Fields was in Europe, again explores the polarity between active and passive masculine roles in society. Not until Hawthorne accepted the prestigious appointment at Liverpool did he abandon his defensive tone regarding his personal and professional status. Tanglewood Tales and The Marble Faun accomodate the marketplace while making no apologies for the implied compromise of his art. Hawthorne's inability to function well in the role of family provider caused financial hardships for his family in his final years and after his death. Ticknor & Fields's records indicate that Fields drove a hard bargain for royalty rates after the Civil War, but that Mrs.Hawthorne was unjustified in her complete bitterness towards the firm. Fields's patronage, as much as Hawthorne's artistic genius, brought the success which helped establish Hawthorne as one of America's first professional authors.