Back Julian Hawthorne, “Absolute Evil”

Julian Hawthorne (1846–1934)
From American Fantastic Tales: Terror and the Uncanny from Poe to the Pulps

Girl in Moonlight, 1910, oil on heavy board by American artist Louis Michel Eilshemius (1864–1941). (Mead Art Museum at Amherst College)

During a career lasting six decades, Julian Hawthorne (the only son of Nathaniel Hawthorne) published nineteen novels, 150 novellas and stories, and over 3,000 other works: essays, journalism, reviews, poems, historical works, travelogues, biography, children’s books, and more. His recent biographer Gary Scharnhorst, who has read more of this stuff than probably any other person alive, says that the total output comes to several million words and that Julian “out-published his father by a ratio of more than twenty to one.”

Yet one of the deeds for which this prolific author is most remembered is his felony conviction for his role, as a 69-year-old celebrity, in the sale of several million shares for silver mines that didn’t exist.

“Julian Hawthorne would have been a public intellectual had he been an intellectual,” quips Scharnhorst, sharing the general critical assessment that much of this mass of writing—with a scattering of exceptions—is deservedly out of print and forgotten. When Peter Straub prepared Library of America’s collection of tales of terror and the weird, he resurrected his own favorite among those exceptions, “Absolute Evil,” one of a trio of longer stories featuring an independent, revolver-wielding “spinster.” We present it—along with more information about Julian Hawthorne’s extraordinary life—as our Story of the Week selection for Halloween.

Read “Absolute Evil” by Julian Hawthorne

Library of America

A champion of America’s great writers and timeless works, Library of America guides readers in finding and exploring the exceptional writing that reflects the nation’s history and culture.

Learn More

From poetry, novels, and memoirs to journalism, crime writing, and science fiction, the more than 300 volumes published by Library of America are widely recognized as America’s literary canon.

Browse our books Subscribe

With contributions from donors, Library of America preserves and celebrates a vital part of our cultural heritage for generations to come.

Support our mission