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Harriet Elizabeth Beecher, the seventh of nine children, was born in Litchfield, Connecticut in the family of a poor clergyman Lymen Beecher. Harriet's mother died when she was five years old, and Lyman remarried the following year, in 1817. At the age of twelve, Harriet began to attend the Hartford Female Seminary, an academy founded and run by her older sister Catherine. In 1832, the Beecher family moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, when Lyman became president of the Lane Theological Seminary.

In 1834, at the age of 23, Harriet's first story was published in Western Monthly Magazine. In 1836 she married Calvin Stowe, a professor of theology. She had 4 sons and 3 daughters. Her father organized an anti-slavery society, the members of which wanted to put an end to slavery. Harriet was an active member of the society. She knew the conditions of life on the plantations and wrote articles for newspapers published by the society.

1850 was an important year for Stowe because the Fugitive Slave Law, requiring Northerners and Southerners alike to turn in runaway slaves, was passed. This law was a major catalyst in Stowe's antislavery writing. In 1852 her novel “UNCLE TOM’S CABIN” was published. This work is one of the first American social novels. The author showed the life of Negro slaves and their dramatic fates. But first of all she was interested in the question of moral degradation of slaves and slave-owners. Slavery is awful, it destroys families, children are taken from parents and sold, women are considered only as females bringing an offspring and hence an income for the masters. A dream about freedom and aspiration to it are embodied in the images of Harris, his wife Eliza and uncle Tom. The history of their lives is the plot of the novel.

In 1853 “A Key to “Uncle Tom's Cabin” was published to corroborate the novel's facts. Harriet took a triumphant tour of Europe as a now famous anti-slavery author. In 1856 Stowe published her second anti-slavery novel “Dred, A Tale of the Great Dismal Swamp”, and again traveled to Europe to promote the book. In 1859 Stowe took her third successful European tour, and published a novel “The Minister's Wooing”.

When the Civil War between the North and the South began, Beecher-Stowe wrote leaflets to the soldiers of the North. She was proud of her son, who was a soldier in the army of the North. In 1862 Abraham Lincoln, President of the USA, received her at the White House and said: “You are the little lady that provoked the great war.”

When the writer died in 1896, flowers were laid on her grave with the following words: “From Uncle Tom’s Children”.


1. Where was Harriet Beecher Stowe educated and how did her upbringing influence her works?

2. What role did the writer play in the history of American literature?

3. What ideas did Stowe express in her works?

[1] minister – clergyman, especially in the Presbyterian and Nonconformist Churches

[2] a chronology – a) an arrangement of events etc. in order of occurrence; b) table or document displaying this.

[3] Socrates – a Greek philosopher who taught clear and reasonable thinking and who devoted himself to seeking truth.

[4] An aphorism is a short statement expressing a truth or clever observation about life.

[5] impel – to drive forward; force

[6] transient – temporary; changing

[7] usurpations – wrongful seizures of power

[8] the present King – George III, King of Great Britain, who lived from 1738 to 1820.

[9] Rectitude – moral correctness

[10] absolve – to set free from an obligation

[11] honeysuckle – climbing bush with aromatic yellow or pink flowers

[12] frontier – border between two countries;. US borders between settled and unsettled country

[13] Radcliffe was known for her terrifying Gothic novels

[14] hardware – tools and household articles of metal etc.

[15] liaison – romantic and sexual relationship

[16] treacherous – being not trustworthy, unfaithful

[17] stump – part of a cut or fallen tree still in the ground

[18] dropsy – an illness, accumulation of excess fluid in body tissues, causing swelling

[19] trapper – person who traps wild animals

[20] trailer – a wild animals hunter

[21] scaffold – historical a platform for the execution of criminals

[22] sustain – support, encourage

[23] afflict – trouble; suffer; cause pain, hurt

[24] ancestor /'ænsɪstə/ - person, from which another has descended; forefather

Date: 2015-12-11; view: 916

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