Quinn has published two novels and a biography His short
stories, memoir pieces and plays have appeared in many
literary journals and national magazines. He wrote the book,
lyrics and music for two full-length music theater works that
have received numerous off-Broadway and regional productions.
He has also written seven dramas presented on stages in New
York City, England, France and Germany, and on National Public
Radio. Mr. Quinn co-authored, with George Plimpton, One
Sunday with the Fitzgeralds (featuring Lee Grant and
Timothy Hutton) and Zelda, Scott and Ernest (with
Norman Mailer and Norris Church Mailer). The 92nd Street Y
recently presented the world premiere of Hester Prynne at
Death, a chamber opera for which he wrote the libretto.
Salem, Massachusetts, to a family that
prominent in the area since colonial times. A rich lore of
family and local history provided much of the material for
When he was four, his father died on a voyage in Surinam,
Dutch Guinea. Maternal relatives recognized his literary
talent and financed his education at Bowdoin College. Among
his classmates were many of the important literary and
political figures of the day: writer Horatio Bridge, future
Senator Jonathan Ciley, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and future
President Franklin Pierce. These prominent friends supplied
Hawthorne with government employment in the lean times,
allowing him time to bloom as an author.
Birthmark was first published in 1844. Hawthorne had
his own obsessions that included a horrified fascination with
"cold philosophy." He approached the Romantic notion of
the ability of science to destroy art (beauty) in the form of
fictive "horror stories" of biological research out of
control. He embodied this concern in his several
characterizations of scientists, who were also physicians,
working in isolation in their laboratories to gain
intellectual control over the mysteries of nature. Although
the notion of amoral, or immoral, experimentation is dated in
these period pieces, the concerns remain ethical problems in
the modern world of medicine.
In 1850 and 1851, Hawthorne completed
his most famous works, The Scarlet Letter and The
House of Seven Gables.