Sophia Peabody Hawthorne, born September 21, 1809, was the wife of Nathaniel Hawthorne, but she was also a talented woman in her own right. She was a painter, illustrator and author. Sophia’s health was not robust as a child and she was educated at home by her sister Elizabeth Palmer Peabody with a focus on geography, science, literature, history and languages. She learned to read Latin, French, Greek, Hebrew and German.
Sophia didn’t intend to marry because of her precarious health, but became secretly engaged to Nathaniel Hawthorne on New Year’s Day in 1839. After a lengthy courtship and a delay due to ill health, they finally married on July 9, 1842 when she was 32 and he was 38. Their marriage was a happy one with three children, Una, Julian and Rose.
In addition to publishing her journals and several articles, Sophia illustrated several of her husbands books, including “The Gentle Boy.” She painted and created bas-relief medallions for her brother and the brother of Ralph Waldo Emerson. After Nathaniel died in on 26 February 1864, Sophia moved to England with her children where she became ill and died in 1871. In 2006, her remains and those of her daughter Una were re-buried in Concord, Massachusetts beside Nathaniel in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery
Find out what else happened on February 26 in Women’s History.