Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville may seem obvious titans of American letters today, but in the 1850s, one had resorted to a desk job, and the other was on the verge of suicide. Hawthorne had become history's most overqualified "as told to" hack, having written a biography of school chum President Franklin Pierce, who reciprocated by appointing him American consul to Liverpool. Melville, Hawthorne's young acolyte, had at age 30 already authored the great American novel, but... More >>>