HARRIET BEECHER – STOWE
The famous American novelist Harriet Elizabeth Beecher-Stowe was born
at Litchfield in the State of Connecticut where her father, Dr. Lyman
Beecher, was a pastor. She was brought up in the religious earnestness
which the New Englanders had inherited from the Puritans. To their
understanding justice and kindness could not exist outside religion, and
this is felt in the works of the writer.
Harriet was four years old when her mother died. The chief influence of
Harriet's youth was her elder sister, Catharine, who had started a
school. In 1832 the family moved to Cincinnati where Dr. Beecher
accepted the presidency of a Theological Seminary. It was there that
Harriet discovered her gift for writing when a local magazine gave her a
prize for one of her short stories. In 1836 she married Professor Calvin
Stowe, a friend of her father's, who taught in the Seminary. Mrs. Stowe,
having a family of several children, had little time to write. Early
sketches written in her spare time were stories about local characters,
the descendants of the Pilgrim Fathers. These sketches show the writer's
deep- interest in social welfare.
Cincinnati was near the border of Virginia — the oldest slave stare. It
was there that Beecher-Stowe saw the institution of slavery; there she
lived through the experiences which compelled her to write on slavery.
She remembered how her husband and brother had saved a free Negro girl,
who was being pursued by her former I master, by hiding the girl in
In 1850 the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850 roused general
indignation in the Northern states. It inspired Beecher-Stowe to write a
larger work. Early in 1851 she began the novel "Uncle Tom's Cabin". When
it appeared, the book had an enormous and continuous success.
Naturally, from that time on she devoted herself to the cause of
emancipation of Negro slaves. Many thought that the book had helped to
bring on the Civil War.
Her second novel was "Dred, A Tale of the Great Dismal Swamp". In this
book the author depicts the viciousness of slavery, but this time she
shows the growing revolutionary spirit among Negro slaves.
After the Civil War between the Northern and Southern states
Beecher-Stowe bought a place in Mandarin, Florida, where she lived and
worked for many years. Her works of the last period are realistic novels
and stories about the common people of her time. Her novel "The Pearl of
Orr's Island" is believed to have begun a new trend in American
literature, the Regional Realists, of which Bret Harte was the classic.
"Uncle Tom's Cabin"
The purpose of the book was to show slavery as a national institution,
therefore Harriet Beecher-Stowe had no intention to pass judgment on the
South alone, to describe slavery as a vicious system of labour or an
economic error. In the preface to her book Beecher-Stowe states that
freedom should be a principle, and in a country where freedom has become
a privilege, the nation will never be free. The author took pains to
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