Brook Farm was a utopian community established in 1841 by Unitarian minister George Ripley and his wife Sophia in West Roxbury, Massachusetts. Envisioning a heaven on earth where sects and social divisions would be replaced by harmonious equality, the Ripleys strove to create a self-sufficient society in which labor and intellectual pursuits were intertwined. Members were required to devote themselves to an equal amount of farming, schooling or domestic work according to their preference, with each receiving equal pay. Hawthorne was a founding member of Brook Farm and one of its earliest inhabitants, though his motivations were more financial than ideological: infactuated with Sophia Peabody, he aimed to save enough money to be able to marry her. The self-sufficient life did not suit Hawthorne, who was accorded the honor of shovelling the dung-heap. Writing to Sophia that “labor is the curse of the world, and nobody can meddle with it, without becoming similarly brutified,” he left after around six months. Suffering financial set-backs that the cerebral community was temperamentally ill-equipped to deal with, the project was closed down in 1847.
Hawthorne later satirized his experiences at Brook Farm in The Blithedale Romance (1852). Read it below.