This evening I had the pleasure of attending the surprise 200th birthday celebration for artist, journalist, and travel writer Sophia Peabody Hawthorne. Most of us know Sophia as the wife of novelist Nathaniel - and it does seem she deserves great credit for being his muse and, at times, his motivation.
It was a lovely soiree with actors portraying Nathaniel and Sophia, and Sophia's sisters Mary and Elizabeth Peabody. Toasts were made by Nathaniel as well as author Megan Marshall, who wrote the book, The Peabody Sisters, and author Patricia Dunlavy Valenti, who is professor in the Department of English and Theatre at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. The toasts were followed by a wonderful dramatic reading of letters between Sophia and her beloved Nathaniel. They were great romantics, and it was great fun to hear their words spoken to "each other."
If you were not among the 200 or so people who attended the surprise birthday party, there is plenty of time remaining to celebrate Sophia's 200th. A complete calendar of events is on salemmainstreets.org.