I thought I'd dip back into my List of 100 Influential Women (or rather Deborah Felder's list). I always learn something new and inspiring from writing these posts.
Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811 - 1896) Felder rated Stowe number 11 on her list of 100 influential women. Harriet was born and died in Connecticut. She was one of her father's 13 children. Her mother (of 9 childen) died when she was 5 years old. Harriet's father was a Presbyterian minister and she had several brothers who became notable ministers. Harriet attended Hartford Female Seminary, run by her elder sister Catherine, where she received a classical (traditionally 'male') education. When she was 21 she moved to Cincinnati to join her father who had become president of the Lane Theological Seminary. During a cholera outbreak, she visited the home of another seminary student in Kentucky. It is said that there she was taken to see a slave auction, an experience that left its mark.
An uncle in Cincinnati invited her to join a writers' club, called the Semi-Colon Club, where she met Calvin Ellis Stowe and his wife Eliza Tyler Stowe. When Eliza died a few years later, Harriet married Stowe, a professor at the seminary. They later followed his career to Maine, where the couple took part in the Underground Railroad, assisting fugitive slaves.
Of course, Harriet Beecher Stowe is most famous for having written Uncle Tom's Cabin. This book was initially published in the anti-slavery journal National Era, in installments over a nine month period before it was published in 1852. When she and her family were later invited to the White House to meet President Lincoln, it is rumoured that he said something to the effect, "So you're the little lady who caused this great big war." In fact, no one knows quite what was said, but journal entries of both Harriet and of her daughter refer to this visit as 'funny' and they apparently found the experience quite amusing. I doubt it can be said that she caused the war, but her book certainly will have fuelled the discussions about slavery.
I have to confess to having not read Uncle Tom's Cabin, but I have now added it to my book list. She wrote other books, including novels, memoirs, a travel guide and a book about domestic managed co-authored with her sister Catherine. Some of these books are available online, including Agnes of Sorrento. I have downloaded a PDF file of her and Catherine's book, The American Woman's Home (published 1869).