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In college Hawthorne had excelled only in composition and had determined to become a writer. Upon graduation, he had written an amateurish novel, Fanshawe, which he published at his own expenseonly to decide that it was unworthy of him and to try to destroy all copies. Hawthorne, however, soon found his own voice, style, and subjects, and within five years of his graduation he had published such impressive and distinctive stories as "The Hollow of the Three Hills" and "An Old Woman's Tale." By 1832, "My Kinsman, Major Molineux" and "Roger Malvin's Burial," two of his greatest talesand among the finest in the languagehad appeared. "Young Goodman Brown," perhaps the greatest tale of witchcraft ever written, appeared in 1835.
His increasing success in placing his stories brought him a little fame. Unwilling to depend any longer on his uncles' generosity, he turned to a job in the Boston Custom House (1839-40) and for six months in 1841 was a resident at the agricultural cooperative Brook Farm, in West Roxbury, Mass. Even when his first signed book, Twice-Told Tales, was published in 1837, the work had brought gratifying recognition but no dependable income. By 1842, however, Hawthorne's writing had brought him a sufficient income to allow him to marry Sophia Peabody; the couple rented the Old Manse in Concord and began a happy three-year period that Hawthorne would later record in his essay "The Old Manse."