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Maine Writers Index - Detail   (Return to List)

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811 - 1896)

Image of Harriet Beecher Stowe
Harriet Beecher Stowe
(1811 - 1896)
Genre: Non-Fiction, Children's Literature, General Fiction

Known for her first novel, the anti-slavery Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852) -- which was an immediate sensation, fanning the pro- and anti-slavery flames that eventually gave rise to the Civil War -- Stowe also wrote The Pearl of Orr's Island: A Story of the Coast of Maine (1862/2001). Sarah Orne Jewett wrote, in the second preface to her collection of short stories, Deephaven (1893 edition), that The Pearl was a work that influenced her in her youth and helped her 'see with new eyes' how she could incorporate her locality into her writing.

Stowe was born in Litchfield, CT, on 14 June 1811, and grew up in a family that prized education and morality. She taught at her sister Catharine's school from 1827-1832, and then at Western Female Institute in Cincinnati (founded by sister Catharine). Harriet married Calvin E. Stowe in 1836, when he was a professor at Lane Theological Seminary in Cincinnati. She wrote stories and sketches to earn money after they were married, and in 1850 the Stowes moved to Brunswick, Maine (63 Federal Street), after her husband was appointed Professor of Natural and Revealed Religion at Bowdoin College; this is where she wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin -- which was first published serially in National Era (1851-1852) -- and The Pearl. The Stowes lived in Andover, Mass., from 1852-1864, and after 1864 in Hartford, Connecticut. Her husband died in 1866 but Stowe remained in Hartford, raising their seven children, until her death in 1896, although she travelled widely in the U.S. and abroad. She died on 1 July 1896.

Stowe's works include:

  • The Gift, a Christmas and New Year's present for 1840 (1839; with Eliza Leslie and Deacon Enos)
  • The May Flower, and Miscellaneous Writings (1843), a collection of stories
  • Uncle Tom's Cabin, or, Life Among the Lowly (1852)
  • History of the Edmonson Family (1852)
  • A Key To Uncle Tom's Cabin; Presenting the Original Facts and Documents Upon Which the Story is Founded Together with Corroborative Statements Verifying the Truth of the Work (1853), with documentary evidence to support her claims concerning slavery
  • Four Ways of Observing the Sabbath: Sketches from the Note Book of an Elderly Gentleman (1853)
  • Sunny Memories of Foreign Lands (1854), an account of her travels
  • First Geography for Children (1855)
  • The May Flower, and Miscellaneous Writings (1855)
  • Dred: A Tale of the Great Dismal Swamp (1856), an anti-slavery novel
  • Elisabeth of the Wartburg (1856)
  • Our Charley and What to do with him (1858)
  • The Minister's Wooing (1859)
  • The Pearl of Orr's Island (1862)
  • Agnes of Sorrento (1862)
  • The Ravages of a Carpet (1864)
  • House and Home Papers (1864)
  • The Chimney-Corner (1865)
  • Little Foxes; or, The Little Failings that Mar Domestic Happiness (1866)
  • Light After Darkness: Religious Poems (1867)
  • Queer Little People (1867)
  • Men of our Times; or, Leading Patriots of the Day (1868)
  • Oldtown Folks (1869)
  • Lady Byron Vindicated; a History of the Byron Contraversy, from its beginnings in 1816 to the present time (1870)
  • Pink & White Tyranny: A Society Novel (1871)
  • My Wife and I: or, Harry Henderson's History (1871)
  • Sam Lawson's Oldtown Fireside Stories (1872)
  • Women in Sacred History (1873)
  • Palmetto-leaves (1873)
  • We and our Neighbors; or, The Records of an Unfashionable Street (1875)
  • The First Christmas of New England (1876/2002), a fictionalized account of how the Pilgrims celebrated their first Christmas in the New World
  • Footsteps of the Master (1877)
  • The Daisy's First Winter and Other Stories (1877)
  • Poganuc People: Their Loves and Lives (1878)
  • A Dog's Mission; or, The Story of the Old Avery House, and other Stories (1880)
  • Nelly's Heroics with Other Heroic Stories (1883)
  • We Young Folks: Original Stories for Boys and Girls (1886)
  • Household Papers and Stories (1896)
  • Religious Studies: Sketches and Poems (1896)

Stowe also wrote poems, some of which are available online; here's 'The Crocus,' and six others are on the same site. Her article, 'Sojourner Truth, The Libyan Sibyl' (in The Atlantic Monthly, April 1863) is available through UVA.

Two good biographical pages on Stowe are Stowe on the Celebration of Women Site and the Sunshine for Women page on Stowe. There's also lots of biographical information about Stowe's early life and about other family members available through UVA's full-text posting of 'The Girlhood of Harriet Beecher Stowe,' written by Stowe's son and grandson. The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center has lots of info about her life and times. It also lists major repositories of her manuscripts. Stowe's son wrote her biography in 1889: Life of Harriet Beecher Stowe, compiled from her letters and journals by her son, Charles Edward Stowe.

Last Update: 07/30/2007

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