Harriet Beecher Stowe was a novelist and social reformer from the United States. She was born at a time when the United States was undergoing significant societal transformations. Stowe had firsthand experience with the horrors of slavery and was involved in the same social circles as many other abolitionists of the time. These conversations and experiences had a big impact on her thinking. In response to her family’s plea, she decided to write about slavery. Her acts, she believed, could make a good influence, and her words, she believed, could alter the world. Stowe is well known for her novel “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” which was released in 1852 and depicted the horrors of slavery. It jolted the nation’s conscience about slavery’s inhumanity. Her groundbreaking novel also contributed to the healing of a rift between North and South America on the topic of slavery. Stowe’s achievements have earned her a place in American history. ‘I will write something, if I live,’ she exclaimed, and her words have reached countless others who have read her works over the years.
Childhood and Adolescence
She was the sixth of eleven children born to religious leader Rev Lymond Beecher and his wife Roxanna Foote Beecher. Her mother was a devout Christian and an abolitionist who died when she was only six years old. Her father remarried, and her new mother gave birth to three more children for the family.
By visiting her aunt Harriet Foote and grandmother Roxana Foote, she was able to avoid the rigorous religious atmosphere of her home. She learned sewing and knitting there, as well as having wider access to literature, novels, and poetry.
Sarah Pierce’s Litchfield Female Academy was where she began her formal education, where she studied language and mathematics among other subjects. Sarah P. Willis, who later wrote under the alias ‘Fanny Fern,’ met her there.
She traveled to Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1831 to attend Lane Theological Seminary with her father. She also became a member of the Semi-colon Organization, a literary and social club that featured the Beecher sisters. She used it to write various pieces about the people of New England and the life she knew before moving to Cincinnati.
A Career of Harriet Beecher Stowe
She and her family relocated to a house on the Bowdoin College campus in Brunswick, Maine, around 1850. She approached Gamaleil Bailey, editor of the weekly anti-slavery publication ‘National Era,’ in the same year to tell him about her plans to write a piece about slavery’s issues.
The first episode of ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ was published in ‘The National Era’ in June 1851. Its moving depiction of slavery’s effects drew national attention and sparked a debate on slavery’s abolition in the South.
She traveled to Washington, DC during the Civil War on November 25, 1862, and saw then-President Abraham Lincoln, whom she claimed had a very hilarious chat with.
She went on a reading tour for Boston’s American Literary Lecture Bureau in the 1870s. She met many fellow writers throughout her reading tours and trips in Europe, including George Eliot, Robert Browning and his wife Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and Lord George Gordon Byron and his wife Anne Isabella Milbanke- Lady Byron.
Major Projects of Harriet Beecher Stowe
She wrote ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin,’ an anti-slavery novel that set the stage for the Civil War, in 1852. It sparked a flurry of protests from pro-slavery activists. It was the first widely read political novel in the United States and received high praise from abolitionists.
‘The Minister’s wooing,’ her historical book, was published in 1859. It also addressed the topic of slavery and criticized Calvinist theology. It merged comedy with regional history to depict the post-revolutionary England’s intersection of daily life, slavery, and religion.
‘Dred: A Tale of the Great Dismal Swamp’ (1856), ‘The pearl of Orrs Island: A Story of the Maine Coast’ (1862), ‘Palmetto leaves’ (1873), ‘Queer small folks’ (1897), and others were among her other important works.
Achievements & Awards
In 1896, she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.On July 1, she is commemorated with a feast day on the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America.
The United States Postal Service published a stamp in her honor in June 2007.
The Ohio Historical Society nominated her as a finalist in a statewide vote for inclusion in Statuary Hall in the United States Capitol in 2010. (the meeting place of the United States Congress).
Personal History and Legacy
During her time at Lane Theological Seminary, she became a member of the Semi-colon group, where she met Calvin Ellis Stowe, a widower and seminary lecturer. On July 6, 1836, they married and had seven children together, including twin daughters.
When the Stowe family relocated to Cincinnati in 1832, they lived in a house that used to be part of the historic Lane Seminary for many years. The Ohio Historical Society now owns the house, which is run by volunteers under the ‘Friends of the Harriet Beecher Stowe House Inc.’
She and her family moved to Mandarin, Florida in the 1880s, when she and her husband formed the ‘Church of our Saviour,’ an Episcopal church. Louis Comfort Tiffany made a Stowe Memorial stained glass window for the church.
She and her husband rented the Stonemore House while he was a professor at Bowdoin College. ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ was written here by her.
Bowdoin College bought the house in 2001 and gathered the finances to renovate it, which is now open to the public.
She relocated to a residence in Hartford, Connecticut, in the latter part of her life, where she lived the last 23 years of her life. It was added on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970, and in 2013 it was designated as a National Historic Landmark.
Estimated Net Worth
Harriet is one of the wealthiest non-fiction authors and one of the most well-known. Harriet Beecher Stowe has a net worth of $1.5 million, according to Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.
Patricia Cornwell is descended from her.