Posted by: Ed Darrell | March 31, 2008

Harriet Beecher Stowe and Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Harriet Beecher Stowe was an abolitionist who wrote a novel about slavery that is credited with galvanizing national opinion, against slavery.

Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom's Cabin

Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom's Cabin

BBC Radio 4’s “In Our Time” has an excellent program discussing the novel, its author Stowe, and the effect the novel had on American politics.

When Abraham Lincoln met the writer Harriet Beecher Stowe after the start of the American Civil War, he reportedly said to her: ‘So you’re the little lady whose book started this big war’. Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, published in 1852, is credited as fuelling the cause to abolish slavery in the northern half of the United States in direct response to its continuation in the South.

The book deals with the harsh reality of slavery and the enduring power of Christian faith. It proved to be the bestselling novel of the 19th century, outselling the Bible in its first year of publication. Its fame spread internationally, Lord Palmerston praised it highly and Tolstoy reportedly said it was his favourite novel.

What impact did Uncle Tom’s Cabin have on the abolitionist cause in America? How did the book create stereotypes about African Americans, many of which endure to this day? And what was its literary legacy?

You may listen to the program (about 45 minutes long) by downloading it here.


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