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Introduction Utopian Literature Dystopian Literature Utopian Communities



The founder of Brook Farm, George Ripley (1802-1880), was one of Unitarianism’s most promising ministers, and the farm at West Roxbury, Massachusetts began as a product of the transcendentalist movement and a showplace for Christian socialism. The commune had more than 120 members at its highest point and was widely regarded as an intellectual center. After four years of existence, however, the members changed its purpose to that of a Fourierist phalanx.



Nathaniel Hawthorne. Fragment of a letter to unknown recipient.

“Brook Farm, I suspect, is soon see worse times than it ever has yet—at least, so men of leadership appear to think. Let it sink, say I,—it has long ceased to have any sympathy from me, though individually I wish well to all concerned.

Write me soon. Your friend, Nath. Hawthorne

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Nathaniel Hawthorne
Among Brook Farm’s visitors was Nathaniel Hawthorne, who drew on his brief Brook Farm experience for the novel Blithedale Romance. Hawthorne left Brook Farm in great disillusionment, and his novel, a thinly disguised satire, recounts with some venom how some commune members were permitted to spend their time reading poetry while others had to tend the cows. The commune saw hundreds of short-term visitors, among them Henry James, Ralph Waldo Emerson, William Channing, Horace Greeley, Margaret Fuller, and Henry David Thoreau.