Woman of the Century/Harriet Beecher Stowe
STOWE, Mrs. Harriet Beecher, author, horn in Litchfield, Conn., 14th June, 1812. She is the sixth child and the third daughter of Rev. Lyman Beecher. When she was four years old, her mother died, and Harriet was sent to the home of her grandmother in Guilford, Conn. She displayed remarkable precocity in childhood, learning easily, remembering well, and judging and weighing what she learned. She was fond of Scott's ballads and the "Arabian Nights," and her vivid imagination ran wild in those entertaining stories. After her father's second marriage she entered the academy in Litchfield, then in the charge of John Brace and Sarah Pierce. She was an earnest student in school, not fond of play, and known as rather quiet and absent-minded. Slit-showed peculiar talent in her compositions, and at twelve years of age she wrote a remarkable essay on " Can the Immortality of the Soul be Proved by the Light of Nature?" That essay won the approbation of her father, although she took the negative side of the question. After her school-days were finished, she became a teacher in the seminary founded in Hartford by her older sister, Catherine Beecher. When her father was called to the presidency of Lane Theological Seminary, in Cincinnati. Ohio, in 1832, Catherine and Harriet went with him and established another school. There, in 1836, Harriet became the wife of Prof.C. E. Stowe, one of the instructors in the seminary. Soon after arose the agitation of the slavery question, which culminated in the rebellion. The "underground railroad " was doing a large business, and many a trembling fugitive was passed along from one "station' to another. Prof. Stowe's house was one of those "stations," and Mrs. Stowe's pity and indignation were thoroughly awakened by the evils of slavery and the apathy of a public which made such conditions possible. The slavery question became at last a source of such bitter dissension among the students of the seminary that the trustees forbade its discussion, in hope of promoting more peaceful studies, but that course was quite as fatal. Students left by the score, and when Dr. Beecher returned from the East, where he had gone to raise funds for the conduct of the school, lie found its class-rooms deserted. The family remained for a time, teaching all who would be taught, regardless of color, but shortly after the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law, in 1850, Prof. Stowe accepted an appointment in Bowdoin College, in Brunswick, Me., and there "Uncle Tom's Cabin" was written. The story is told that once, while Mrs. Stowe was walking in her garden in Hartford, a stranger approached and offered his hand, with a few words expressive of the pleasure it gave him to meet the woman who had written the book which had so strongly impressed him years before. "I did not write it," replied Mrs. Stowe, as she placed her hand in his. "You didn't!" exclaimed her caller. "Who did, then?" "God did," was the quiet answer. "I merely wrote as He dictated." That celebrated book was first published as a serial in the "National Era," an anti-slavery paper of which Dr. Bailey, then of Washington, w;is editor When it had nearly run its course, Mrs. Stowe set about to find a publisher to issue it in book form, and encountered the usual difficulties experienced by the unknown author treating an unpopular subject. At last she found a publisher, Mr Jewett, of Boston, w ho was rewarded by the demand which arose at once, and with which the presses, though worked day and night, failed to keen pace. Mrs. Stowe sent the first copies issued to those most in sympathy with her purpose. Copies were sent to Prince Albert, the Earl of Shaftsbury. Macaulay, the historian. Dickens and Charles Kingsley, all of whom returned her letters full of the kindest sympathy, praise and appreciation. The following year she went to Europe, and enjoyed a flattering reception from all classes of people. A "penny-offering" was made her, which amounted to a thousand sovereigns, and the signatures of 562.448 women were appended to a memorial address to her. Returning to the United States, she began to produce the long series of books that have added to the fame she won by her "Uncle Tom's Cabin" In 1840 she had collected a number of articles, which she had contributed to periodicals, and published them under the title, 'The Mayflower, or Short Sketches of the Descendants of the Pilgrims. A second edition was published in Boston in 1855. She had no conception of the coming popularity of "Uncle Tom's Cabin." Her preceding works had been fairly popular, but not until her serial was published in a book did her name go around the world. In the five years from 1852101857, over 500,000 copies of "Uncle Tom's Cabin" were sold in the United States, and it has since been translated into Armenian. Bohemian, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French. German, Hungarian, Illyrian. Polish, Portuguese, modern Greek, Russian, Servian, Spanish, Swedish, Wallachian, Welsh and other languages. All these versions are in the British Museum, in London, England, together with the very extensive collection of literature called out by the book. In 1853, in answer to the abuse showered on her she published "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." In the same year she published "A Peep Into Uncle Tom's Cabin for Children." The story has been dramatized and played in many countries, and the famous book is still in demand. After her trip to Europe, in 1853, with her husband and brother Charles, she published "Sunny Memories of Foreign Lands," a collection of letters in two volumes, which appeared in 1854 In 1856 she published "Dred, a Tale of the Dismal Swamp, which was republished in 1866 under the title "Nina Gordon." and has been recently published under the original title. In 1859 she published her famous book, "The Minister's Wooing." which added to her reputation. In 1864 her husband resigned his Andover professorship, to which he had been called Some years previous, and removed to Hartford, Conn., where he died 22nd August, 1886. Mrs. Stowe has made her home in that city, and for some years passed her winters in Mandarin, Fla., where they bought a plantation. She was treated rather coldly by the southern people, who could not forget the influence of "Uncle Tom's Cabin" in abolishing slavery. In 1869 she published "Old Town Folks," and in the same year she published "The True Story of Lady Byron's Life." A tempest of criticism followed, and in 1869 she published "Lady Byron Vindicated, a History of the Byron Controversy." Her other published books are: "Geography for My Children" (1855), "Our Charley, and What To Do with Him" (1858). " The Pearl of Orr's Island, a Story of the Coast of Maine" (1862); " Reply on Behalf of the Women of America to the Christian Address of Many Thousand Women of Great Britain" (1863); "The Ravages of a Carpet" (1864); "House and Home Papers, by Christopher Crowfield" (1864); "Religious Poems" (1865); "Stories About Our Dogs" (1865); "Little Foxes" (1865); "Queer Little People" (1867); "Daisy's First Winter, and Other Stories" (1867); "The Chimney Corner, by Christopher Crowfield " (1868); "Men of Our Times" (1868); "The American Woman's Home," with her sister Catherine (1869); "Little Pussy Willow" (18701; "Pink and White Tyranny" (1871); "Sam Lawson's Fireside Stories" (1871); "My Wife and I" (1S72); "Pal- metto Leaves " (1873); "Betty's Bright Idea, and Other Tales" (1875); "We and Our Neighbors" (1875); "Footsteps of the Master " (1876); "Bible Heroines " (1878); "Poganuc People" (18781, and "A Dog's Mission" (1881). Nearly all of those books have been republished abroad, and many of them have been translated into foreign languages. In 1859 a London, Eng., publisher brought out selections from her earlier works under the title "Golden Fruit in Silver Baskets." In 1868 she served as associate editor, with Donald G. Mitchell, of "Hearth and Home," published in New York City. Four of her children are still living. During the past few years she has lived in retirement in Hartford with her daughters. She is in delicate health, and her mental vigor has been impaired by age and sickness. She is a woman of slight figure, with gray eyes and white hair, originally black. In spite of the sale of about 2,000,000 copies of "Uncle Tom's Cabin," she has not averaged over four-hundred dollars a year in royalties from the sales. In her library she has fifty copies of that work, no two of which are alike. Next to her brother, Henry Ward Beecher, she is the most remarkable member of the most remarkable family ever produced by any country.