Flowering of New England has paved the way for books that fill out the gaps, and this faithful biography of a rather sombre figure does just that. Hawthorne's life is singularly undramatic -- it offers little that is warmly human. By nature, introspective and withdrawn, his life in Salem with his mother and sisters intensified a pattern of solitude. For eleven years, he secluded himself from society, until Elizabeth Peabody took him in hand. Then with the publication of Twice Told Tales, and his marriage to Sophia Peabody, Hawthorne emerged. Brook Farm -- Concord -- intimate converse with the leading Transcendentalists -- renown, with the publication of The Scarlet Letter. A consulate post in England and Italy -- not happy years, these, and the return to America, where he died. A competent job.