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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).

  • Author

    Born Harriet Elizabeth Beecher. Married Stowe. (1811 - 1896). American.
  • Work

    Novelist. Author of Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852).
  • Genres

    Abolitionism. Local colour realism.


Baym, Nina, ed. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. New York: W. W. Norton, 1995.

Bercovitch, Sacvan, ed. The Cambridge History of American  Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

Cunliffe, Marcus. The Literature of the United States. London: Penguin, 1991.

Lauter, Paul, ed. The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Lexington: D. C. Heath, 1994.

McQuade, Donald, gen.ed. The Harper American Literature. New York: Harper & Collins, 1996.

Ruland, Richard, Malcolm Bradbury. Od  puritanismu k postmodernismu. Praha: Mladá fronta, 1997.

Vančura, Zdeněk, ed. Slovník spisovatelů: Spojené státy americké. Praha: Odeon, 1979.


"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).


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