Despite all of the analysis of the initial meeting between Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville and the friendship that followed, the purpose of that first meeting is often dismissed with the excuse that “the origins of the party are wrapped in obscurity.” Analysis of friends' letters and memoirs of family members, however, reveal that the day was organized by Sophia Hawthorne and Harriet Field, a close friend of Hawthorne's old publisher John Louis O'Sullivan. While the intent of the organizers is not stated, the list of those invited implies that it was simply a celebration of Hawthorne's arrival in the Berkshires. The extension of a last-minute invitation to Melville, however, led to the friendship of the two great writers, the refinement of Melville's novel into something new and different, and its dedication to the genius of Nathaniel Hawthorne.

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