Writers, like the rest of us, keep secrets — and Nathaniel Hawthorne was no exception. He burned his wife Sofia’s love letters to him and he, in turn, asked his close friend Herman Melville to burn the letters he wrote to Melville. He protected his privacy. Had Hawthorne been living today, he would not likely post to Facebook.
It’s no surprise that it took author Mark Beauregard six years to research Melville and Hawthorne’s work and archives to reach a point where he was ready to write his newly published historical novel, “The Whale: A Love Story.” Secrets rarely reside on the surface of things and stories require time and thought to take on dimension.
The two friends and neighbors spoke often of literature, God and religion. Beauregard says they cross- pollinated each other’s work with ideas, passion and energy. This creative simpatico, this energized period of productivity spurred by Melville, says Beauregard, is Hawthorne’s secret. It was the most productive period in Hawthorne’s life — “an incredible spasm of activity.” Until then, says Beauregard, Hawthorne was renowned for being a slow writer.
Did Melville, in turn, have a secret? “Hawthorne was Melville’s white whale,” says Beauregard. And thus, Beauregard’s novel, told from Melville’s point of view.
Mark Beauregard has been a journalist, magazine editor and, most recently, manager of nonprofit arts and community organizations. He has lived in many places throughout the United States and in Europe and currently resides in Tucson, Arizona.
Photo by Rose Todaro