DUBOIS, Pa. — An indispensable masterwork in American literature, “The Scarlet Letter,” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, has been a staple in literary studies and English courses for generations. Now, thanks to the work of Penn State DuBois Distinguished Professor of English Emeritus Richard Kopley, more is known about how this novel came to exist.
Kopley has edited and re-released “The Salem Belle: A Tale of 1692” (Penn State Press), a novel first published, anonymously, in 1842. The unidentified author was Ebenezer Wheelwright. Kopley considers the book as a major source for the 1850 novel “The Scarlet Letter.” However, Wheelwright’s book had fallen into obscurity and was nearly lost to history. Kopley’s research shows that Hawthorne drew inspiration for his classic from this previously little-known work. The new edition includes an introduction and notes by Kopley, which detail his research into the two novels and their connection.
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