Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) was an American free black woman, abolitionist, and novelist who wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin, one of the most influential books in American history. If you're looking for a travel book to recommend a nice, relaxing stay in the woods, this isn't the book for you. Keep looking.
Stowe's father was Lyman Beecher, pastor of the Congregational Church in Litchfield, and her brother was the famous Congregational preacher Henry Ward Beecher. You've heard of him, right? What? But he was famous…
After the death of one of her children made her contemplate the pain slaves must endure when family members are sold away, Stowe decided to write a book about slavery. With the publication of Uncle Tom's Cabin in 1852, she became a national celebrity and went on to write several more books on the topic, many of them in response to southern critiques of the original. She got so caught up in Uncle Tom stuff that she never found time to write that graphic novel she always had in the back of her mind. It was a shame. The Adventures of Tom and His Magical Cabin probably would have been a big seller.
The publication of Uncle Tom's Cabin brought the issue of slavery home to millions of Americans. The story, which helped stimulate the abolitionist movement, is a dramatic portrayal of the pain and heartbreak suffered by slaves throughout the South. If Oprah had been around, it definitely would have made its way into her book club.
The novel sold 500,000 copies in its first four years in print, a record in book sales. Obviously, this was pre-Rowling. Contemporaries believed that much of the strife following the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 was due to Stowe's influence. Whoever said a writer couldn't change the world never met Harriet.
While Uncle Tom's Cabin did not start the war, itdid bring into focus the brutality of slavery and contributed to the divide growing between the North and the South during the 1850s. The moral of the story? Any time you experience serious differences with someone, blame it on a book.