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Uncle Tom's Cabin
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About the Author

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) was born in Litchfield, Connecticut, daughter of the Reverend Lyman Beecher of the local Congregational Church. In 1832, the family moved to Cincinnati, where Harriet married Calvin Ellis Stowe, a professor at the seminary, in 1836. The border town of Cincinnati was alive with abolitionist conflict, and there Mrs. Stowe took an active part in community life. She came into contact with fugitive slaves and learned from friends and from personal visits what life was like for the African-American in the South. In 1850, the Fugitive Slave Law was passed, and that same year Harriet's sister-in-law urged the author to put her feelings about the evils of slavery into words. Uncle Tom's Cabin was published serially from 1851 to 1852 in The National Era and as a book in 1852. More than 300,000 copies of the novel were sold in one year. Mrs. Stowe continued to write, publishing eleven other novels and numerous articles before her death at the age of eighty-five in Hartford, Connecticut.

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These two publications demonstrate continuing interest in the life and work of Harriet Beecher Stowe. Harvard University's attractive, sturdy, and reasonably priced paperback of Uncle Tom's Cabin provides a brief introduction by David Bromwich (English, Yale) and a short chronology of Stowe's life. The novel was reprinted in various editions in England in 1852 owing to the lack of international copyright agreements at the time; this version follows the first American edition. Belasco's (English, women's & gender studies, Univ. of Nebraska, Lincoln) study of Stowe is an interesting mixture of 38 letters, diaries, and other writings regarding impressions and interactions with Stowe by her family members and contemporaries, as well as a few selections by Stowe. Belasco's knowledge comes across through her substantial introduction and thoughtful editing-each entry is prefaced by an informative paragraph that supplies helpful context and gives details on the author's relationship to Stowe. Writings by several notable figures are included, such as Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and Mark Twain. A complex portrait of Stowe, who has been a controversial figure at times, emerges. Belasco's work is recommended for academic and public libraries with American literature collections. Libraries in need of a replacement copy of Uncle Tom's Cabin should consider picking up the new Harvard edition.-Stacy Russo, Chapman Univ. Libs., Orange, CA Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

"Uncle Tom's Cabin is the most powerful and enduring work of art ever written about American slavery."--Alfred Kazin

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