Stowe, Harriet Beecher. (1811 - 1896).
L i f e
- daughter of a pastor, grew up in an atmosphere of New England piety, and early developed an interest in theology and schemes for improving humanity
- lived in Cincinnati (Ohio), a border city, at the time torn with abolitionist conflicts
- moved to write on the subject after the passing of the Fugitive Slave Act (1850)
- managed to stir the American conscience concerning slavery and thereby influenced the course of American history
- supported the anti-slavery efforts x but: never allied herself with the abolitionists, considered them extremists
- supported also other humanist reform movements, including temperance, and women suffrage
W o r k
A b o l i t i o n i s t F i c t i o n :
Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852):
- 1st published in instalments in the abolitionist paper The National Era, then in 2 volumes as Uncle Tom’s Cabin, or The Man That Was a Thing
- a historic event in publishing and an immediate popular success
- the author became an international celebrity, the novel was translated in 37 languages
- A. Lincoln believed it contributed to the outburst of the Civil War
- Uncle Tom = a strong, patient, and moral black slave
- a new view of the slave not as an article of trade to be bought and sold x but: a symbol of moral power and humiliating passivity
Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin:
- defended herself against the charges she distorted the reality of the slave life: relied on the slave narratives and correspondence with Frederick Douglass
- intended not as an abolitionist propaganda or criticism of the South, also presented some of the favourable aspects of slavery x but: crystallised the sentiments of the North
Dred: A Tale of the Great Dismal Swamp (1856):
< drew heavily on the slave narrative Confessions of Nat Turner
- less successful
L o c a l C o l o u r F i c t i o n :
The Minister’s Wooing (1859), The Pearl of Orr’s Island (1862), and Oldtown Fireside Stories (1872):
- New England
> the local-colour realism of M. W. Freeman and S. O. Jewett
A l s o W r o t e :
- religious poems, articles for religious magazines, and housekeeping manuals
(Photo: Wikimedia Commons).
AuthorBorn Harriet Elizabeth Beecher. Married Stowe. (1811 - 1896). American.
WorkNovelist. Author of Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852).
GenresAbolitionism. Local colour realism.
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"Nobody had ever instructed him that a slaveship, with a procession of expectant sharks in its wake, is a missionary institution, by which closely packed heathens are brought over to enjoy the light of the Gospel".
From The Minister's Wooing (1859).