The Scarlet Letter was published in 1850.
Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter tells the tale of Hester Prynne, her daughter Pearl, and the city that condemns them because Hester will not name her child's father. The novel remains one of the classics of early American literature more than 150 years since its first publication in 1850.
Before beginning a reading of this novel, brainstorm with the class the possible meaning of the title. What does the word scarlet connote? What is the letter? Can letter have more than one meaning? Are there synonyms for scarlet that could convey the same significance and meaning? Be sure to record the responses of the class and return to them once the reading has begun, to explore how students' definitions have changed.
An alternative activity might be to show students the opening minutes of the movie adaptations of the novel first, and then ask them to read the opening chapter of the novel. Students could then write a short comparison of the book and the movie. An adaptation of the lesson Cover to Cover: Comparing Books to Movies (see Lesson Plans below) can also provide a foundation for this activity.
This comprehensive Washington State University site contains links to various resources on the author. Included are some online works, biographical information, activities, and reviews.
Biographical information on Hawthorne along with details about imagery and symbolism in the novel are found at this University of Wisconsin site.
This page, from The Life and Works of Herman Melville site, describes the friendship between these two authors, who were contemporaries though fifteen years apart in age.
This interactive exhibit features the family newspaper, The Spectator, conceived by Hawthorne as a youth. Included are historical images, portraits, and artifacts related to Hawthorne's life and writing career.