The Scarlet Letter: A Romance is a work of historical fiction by American author Nathaniel Hawthorne, published in 1850. Set in the Puritan Massachusetts Bay Colony during the years 1642 to 1649, the novel tells the story of Hester Prynne, who conceives a daughter with a man to whom she is not married and then struggles to create a new life of repentance and dignity. Containing a number of religious and historic allusions, the book explores themes of legalism, sin, and guilt.
The Scarlet Letter was one of the first mass-produced books in the United States. It was popular when first published and is considered a classic work of American literature. The novel has inspired numerous film, television, and stage adaptations. Critics have described The Scarlet Letter as a masterwork, and novelist D. H. Lawrence called it a "perfect work of the American imagination".