While Americans celebrate the day with parades, picnics, and fireworks for Independence Day, July 4th also marks the birthday of a colonial author best known for the classics The Scarlet Letter and The House of the Seven Gables.
In 1852, Hawthorne wrote A Wonder-Book for Girls and Boys, a collection of six myths, retold for children – “modernized” by Hawthorne. His entertaining adaptation of the Midas Touch, the Gorgon’s head, and other stories maintain their appeal – especially when read aloud. In the public domain, the book is available – here – through Eldritch Press – but without the sketches.
“Then hold your tongue!” rejoined Eustace… “Hold all your tongues, and I shall tell you a sweet pretty story…” from Hawthorne’s A Wonder-Book for Girls and Boys
I read this book as a child — or perhaps I read Tanglewood Tales, also by Hawthorne and also a retelling of the Greek myths. That is when my interest in those old stories began. I learned later, however, that Hawthorne left out some of racier parts. For example, the Minotaur was a result of a liaison between the wife of King Minos and a white bull. Hawthorne never explained where the Minotaur came from (not suitable for children). He was fearsome, just the same.