Harriet Beecher Stowe

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Harriet Beecher Stowe
Born June 14, 1811(1811-06-14)
Litchfield, Connecticut, U.S.
Died July 1, 1896(1896-07-01) (aged 85)
Hartford, Connecticut, U.S.
Pen name Christopher Crowfield
Nationality American
Genres Historical fiction
Notable work(s) Uncle Tom's Cabin

Harriet Beecher Stowe (June 14, 1811 – July 1, 1896) was an American abolitionist and writer. Her novel Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852) showed the lives of African-Americans who were slaves. It was very popular as a novel and a play, and had a great influence in the United States and Britain, helping people who did not like slavery and making many people disagree with slavery.

Biography[change | change source]

Stowe was born Harriet Elisabeth Beecher in Litchfield, Connecticut, on June 14, 1811.[1] Her parents were religious leaders Lyman Beecher and Roxana (Foote) Beecher. Her mother died when Harriet was five years old. She had a sister, Catharine Beecher, who was an educator and author, and three brothers Henry Ward Beecher, Charles Beecher, and Edward Beecher.

Harriet went to the girls' school run by her sister Catharine. She received an education in the classics, including study of languages and mathematics. At 21, she moved to Cincinnati, Ohio to join her father. He had become the president of Lane Theological Seminary. She also joined the literary salon and social club called the Semi-Colon Club.[2]

Harriet married Calvin Ellis Stowe on January 6, 1836. He was a widower and professor at the seminary.[3] They had seven children together, including twin daughters. Calvin Stowe was a critic of slavery. The Stowes supported the Underground Railroad. They briefly sheltered several fugitive slaves in their home.

Uncle Tom's Cabin and the American Civil War[change | change source]

First edition title page

In 1850, the Stowe family moved to a house near the campus of Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. Calvin Stowe was teaching in the college. On March 9, 1850, Stowe wrote to the editor of the antislavery journal National Era. She told him that she was planning to write a story about slavery.[4] In June 1851, the first installment of her book, Uncle Tom's Cabin, was published in the National Era. She originally used the subtitle "The Man That Was A Thing". It was changed to "Life Among the Lowly".[1] Installments were published every week from June 5, 1851, to April 1, 1852.[4]

For the newspaper serialization (published in parts) of her novel, Stowe was paid only $400.[5] Uncle Tom's Cabin was published in book form on March 20, 1852, by John P. Jewett with an initial print run of 5,000 copies.[6] Each of its two volumes included three illustrations and a title-page designed by Hammatt Billings.[7] In less than a year, the book sold an unprecedented 300,000 copies.[8] By December 1851, sales began dropping off. A cheap edition was published to stimulate more sales.[9]

Americans were captivated by the book. It provoked more debate about abolition and slavery. Southerns hated the book. Within a year of the book's publication, 300 babies were named "Eva" in Boston alone.[10]

Lincoln and Stowe[change | change source]

After the start of the American Civil War, Stowe went to Washington, D.C. She met President Abraham Lincoln on November 25, 1862.[11] Stowe's daughter Hattie reported, "It was a very droll time that we had at the White House I assure you ... I will only say now that it was all very funny—and we were ready to explode with laughter all the while."[12]

Lincoln greeted Stowe by saying, "So this is the little lady who made this big war."[13] [14]

Harriet's own accounts are vague, including a letter reporting the meeting to her husband: "I had a real funny interview with the President."[12]

Death[change | change source]

Stowe's grave marker

Harriet Beecher Stowe died on 1 July 1896 in Hartford, Connecticut. She is buried in the cemetery at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts.[15]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 McFarland, Philip. Loves of Harriet Beecher Stowe. New York: Grove Press, 2007: 112. ISBN 978-0-8021-4390-7
  2. Tonkovic, Nicole. Domesticity with a difference: The Nonfiction of Catharine Beecher, Sarah J. Hale, Fanny Fern, and Margaret Fuller. University Press of Mississippi, 1997: 12. ISBN 0-87805-993-8
  3. McFarland, Philip. Loves of Harriet Beecher Stowe. New York: Grove Press, 2007: 21. ISBN 978-0-8021-4390-7
  4. 4.0 4.1 Hedrick, Joan D. Harriet Beecher Stowe: A Life. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995: 208. ISBN 9780195096392208
  5. Lyons, Martyn (2011). Books: A Living History. Los Angeles, CA: J. Paul Getty Museum. p. 143.
  6. McFarland, Philip. Loves of Harriet Beecher Stowe. New York: Grove Press, 2007: 80–81. ISBN 978-0-8021-4390-7
  7. Parfait, Claire. The Publishing History of Uncle Tom's Cabin, 1852–2002. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2007: 71–72. ISBN 978-0-7546-5514-5
  8. Morgan, Jo-Ann. Uncle Tom's Cabin As Visual Culture. University of Missouri Press, 2007: 136–137. ISBN 978-0-8262-1715-8
  9. Parfait, Claire. The Publishing History of Uncle Tom's Cabin, 1852–2002. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2007: 78. ISBN 978-0-7546-5514-5
  10. Morgan, Jo-Ann. Uncle Tom's Cabin As Visual Culture. University of Missouri Press, 2007: 137. ISBN 978-0-8262-1715-8
  11. McFarland, Philip. Loves of Harriet Beecher Stowe. New York: Grove Press, 2007: 163. ISBN 978-0-8021-4390-7
  12. 12.0 12.1 Hedrick, Joan D. Harriet Beecher Stowe: A Life (1995) p 306
  13. David B. Sachsman; S. Kittrell Rushing; Roy Morris (2007). Memory and Myth: The Civil War in Fiction and Film from Uncle Tom's Cabin to Cold Mountain. Purdue University Press. pp. 2, 8. http://books.google.com/books?id=bTSEuddLtlUC&pg=PA8#v=onepage&q&f=false.
  14. Hanne, Michael (1996), The Power of the Story: Fiction and Political Change, Berghahn Books, p. 75, http://books.google.com/books?id=8LtDvVCz5IQC&pg=PA75&dq=stowe+lincoln+1862&hl=en&sa=X&ei=A43HUcu0MJD-4AOKrYHQAw&ved=0CGAQ6AEwCQ#v=onepage&q=stowe%20lincoln%201862&f=false
  15. "Harriet Elizabeth Beecher Stowe (1811 - 1896) - Find A Grave Memorial". Findagrave.com. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=992. Retrieved 2012-07-08.

Other websites[change | change source]