Site Map
Photos of Winnie

I thought that since there has been a thread of favorite books/authors I would talk about Harriet Beecher Stowe, the little lady who started the big war.

Born on June 14, 1811 at Litchfield, Connecticut, Harriet Beecher Stowe was the sixth of ten children. Her father, pastor of the Congregational Church, caused her to struggle through her childhood to live up to his spiritual expectations. She was an intelligent child and began reading when she was five. She especially liked Cotton Mather, Scott, Byron and reading the Bible. Harriet gained her formal education at several female academies. Beginning at Miss Pierce's Female Academy, she continued at her sister's Hartford Female Seminary where she studied French, Latin, Italian and art. By 1829, she became a full-time instructor of Latin, rhetoric and composition. During this period of her life she struggled with religious concerns and felt that she needed spiritual salvation and looked to God for a mission in life.

In 1832, the Beecher family moved to Cincinatti, Ohio and it was there that Harriet first came in contact with the issue of slavery. In Ohio, a northern state, the blacks were free but across the river slave trade existed. In 1836, while still in Cincinatti, Harriet married Calvin Stowe, a graduate of Bowdoin and Andover Theological Seminary and a Hebrew scholar. The Stowe's had seven children which caused them some financial difficulties. To help, Harriet began to write. It was as a member of the Semicolon Club that she had her first story published.

In 1850, the Stowes moved to Brunswick, Maine where Calvin became a teacher at Bowdoin College. This same year the Fugitive Slave Law passed which mandated the return of runaway slaves in the North to their Southern owners. To support the anti-slavery movement, Harriet wrote weekly articles for the National Era, a Washington anti-slavery paper. These articles became the novel Uncle Tom's Cabin, Harriet's most famous work, which was published in 1852. In its first year of publication over 300,000 copies were sold in the United States and one million were sold in Europe.

In 1852, the Stowes moved to Andover, Massachusetts where Harriet wrote The Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin, which presented the original facts and documents that inspired her book Uncle Tom's Cabin, and Dred: A Tale of the Great Dismal Swamp detailing the despair of the slaves. Both the anti-slavery movement and Harriet's book Uncle Tom's Cabin stirred emotions in the United States and in Europe. Harriet and Calvin traveled to Europe on three occasions and were greeted by crowds of people who took her book to heart. Returning from Europe in 1857, they found the anti-slavery movement thriving.

On several occasions after the outbreak of the Civil War, Harriet met with President Lincoln who greeted her with "So this is the little woman who wrote the book that made this big war."

After the war, Harriet and Calvin moved to Hartford, Connecticut but spent their winters in Florida. Harriet continued to write but her themes dealt with the evils of society, her childhood and Calvin's youth in Natick. Calvin died in 1886 leaving their daughters to care for Harriet until she died on July 1, 1896 at the age of 85.

I don't know if any of you have ever read the book but I thought you may be interested in the woman who wrote it. Also, have any of you ever seen The King and I? If not watch it and see a Siamese interpretation of this historic novel. It's rather interesting.

Accessed 7 October 2005 www.harrietbeecherstowecenter.org/life: Internet

© 2006 Winifred Ledoux