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 Harriet Elizabeth <I>Beecher</I> Stowe

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Harriet Elizabeth Beecher Stowe

  • Birth 14 Jun 1811 Litchfield, Litchfield County, Connecticut, USA
  • Death 1 Jul 1896 Hartford, Hartford County, Connecticut, USA
  • Burial Andover, Essex County, Massachusetts, USA
  • Memorial ID 992

Writer, Social Reformer. The author of "Uncle Tom's Cabin," an antislavery novel of such power that it is cited among the causes of the American Civil War, Harriet Beecher Stowe was also an advocate of women's rights, religious tolerance, and educational reform. She was the daughter of Lyman Beecher, a well-known religious leader, and the former Roxana Foote, a devout woman who died when Harriet was 4 years old. Although painfully shy and considered an "odd" child, she was intellectually gifted, and received an excellent education at a school founded by her elder sister Catharine. In 1832 she moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, where her father had been appointed head of a local seminary, and in 1836 married Calvin Stowe, a widowed biblical scholar who taught at the school. The next 14 years proved stressful, with Harriet giving birth to 6 of their 7 children, including a set of twins. Often in ill health and deeply grieved by the loss of a child to cholera, she struggled to supplement her husband's meager income with her writing. These hardships deepened her empathy with the suffering of others, however, and life in close proximity to Kentucky, a slave state, provided her with the material for "Uncle Tom." While visiting the South she had witnessed the brutality of the plantation system first-hand, and she also housed fugitive slaves in her home. In 1850 her husband's appointment to the faculty of Bowdoin College brought her to Brunswick, Maine, and it was here that Mrs. Stowe wrote her masterpiece, galvanized by the passage of the newly enacted Fugitive Slave Law, which criminalized the assistance of runaways. When "Uncle Tom's Cabin" appeared in book from in 1852, it swiftly became both controversial and an international bestseller. Denounced by its critics as Abolitionist propaganda, it was lavishly praised by such literary giants as Tolstoy, Hugo, and Heine, and catapulted its author to fame at home and abroad. After the Emancipation Proclamation, Stowe focused greater attention on other social reforms. Her subsequent literary efforts fell short of "Uncle Tom's" success, although her 1869 biography of Lady Byron generated almost as much controversy for its allegations of incest. Personal tragedy also stalked her family, claiming the lives of 3 of her adult children, among them her son Frederick, an alcoholic war veteran, who disappeared without a trace in 1870. Her nephew, the distinguished soldier Frederick Beecher, had been killed 2 years earlier in the Indian Wars battle which bears his name. Widowed in 1886, Stowe's elder years were spent in Hartford, Connecticut, where she enjoyed the neighborliness of Mark Twain and Oliver Wendell Holmes, and occasionally, a little too much wine. "I won't be any properer than I have a mind to be," said the octogenarian authoress. When she died at 85, survivors included her unmarried twin daughters, her youngest son, and her favorite brother, the celebrated Henry Ward Beecher.

Bio by: Nikita Barlow


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 1 Jan 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 992
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Harriet Elizabeth Beecher Stowe (14 Jun 1811–1 Jul 1896), Find A Grave Memorial no. 992, citing Phillips Academy Cemetery, Andover, Essex County, Massachusetts, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .