Twice-Told Tales

Twice-Told Tales is a short story collection in two volumes by Nathaniel Hawthorne first published in the spring of 1837. The stories had all been previously published in magazines and annuals, hence the name.


Hawthorne was encouraged to collect these previously anonymous stories by friend Horatio Bridge. Bridge even offered $250 to cover the risk of the publication.

After its publication, Hawthorne sent a copy to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, a former schoolmate at Bowdoin College who had given a speech at Commencement calling for notable contributions to American literature. By this time, Longfellow was working at Harvard University. "We were not, it is true, so well acquainted at college, that I can plead an absolute right to inflict my 'twice-told' tediousness upon you; but I have often regretted that we were not better known," Hawthorne wrote in an accompanying letter. Longfellow was impressed and praised the collection in the North American Review. The two authors would eventually build a strong friendship .

Critical response

Edgar Allan Poe wrote a well-known two-part review of Twice-Told Tales, published in the April and May 1842 issues of the Broadway Journal. Poe criticized Hawthorne's reliance on allegory and the didactic, something he called a "heresy" to American literature. He did, however, express praise at the use of short stories (Poe was a tale-writer himself) and said they "rivet the attention" of the reader. Poe admitted, "The style of Hawthorne is purity itself. His tone is singularly effective--wild, plaintive, thoughtful, and in full accordance with his themes." He concluded that, "we look upon him as one of the few men of indisputable genius to whom our country has as yet given birth. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow referred to the collection's "The Gentle Boy" as "on the whole, the finest thing he ever wrote".

The Grolier Club later named Twice-Told Tales the most influential book of 1837.


I. "Howe's Masquerade"
II. "Edward Randolph's Portrait"
III. "Lady Eleanore's Mantle"
IV. "Old Esther Dudley"

  • "The Haunted Mind"
  • "The Village Uncle"
  • "The Ambitious Guest"
  • "The Sister Years"
  • "Snow-Flakes"
  • "The Seven Vagabonds"
  • "The White Old Maid"
  • "Peter Goldthwaite's Treasure"
  • "Chippings with a Chisel"
  • "The Shaker Bridal"
  • "Night Sketches"
  • "Endicott and the Red Cross"
  • "The Lily's Quest"
  • "Foot-prints on the Sea-shore"
  • "Edward Fane's Rosebud"
  • "The Threefold Destiny"

Motion Picture Adapations

In 1963, United Artists released a horror trilogy film adaptation of several of Hawthorne's stories, with the film titled Twice-Told Tales. Three stories were filmed: "The House of the Seven Gables," "Heidegger's Experiment," and "Rappaccini's Daughter." While done on a relatively low-budget by Hollywood standards, the film is nonetheless regarded as a classic of sorts, with Vincent Price, Sebastian Cabot, and Beverly Garland delivering good performances.



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