Salem, Massachusetts may be well known for it’s history of witch trials, but it also has a rich literary history as well. Salem was the birthplace and home of Nathaniel Hawthorne, author of the Scarlett letter. Hawthorne lived in four houses during his lifetime in Salem, and to me the most interesting one is at 14 Mall Street. It’s where Hawthorne wrote the Scarlet Letter, while working in a customs house.
When I visited in 2012 the house was abandoned and in disrepair, guarded by a large dead tree and surrounded by gravestones. In contrast, the site of the customs house where Hawthorne worked is still lively and bustling, situated right on Salem’s waterfront. It’s easy to see how his occupation may have influenced his writing. Part of The Scarlet Letters plot is based on the length of time sea travel took during the time period, which Hawthorne would have been more than familiar with watching ships sail in and out of Salem Harbor.