Beecher Stowe, Harriet

BORN 14 Jun 1811, Litchfield, Connecticut - DIED 1 Jul 1896, Hartford, Connecticut
GRAVE LOCATION Andover, Massachusetts: Andover Chapel Cemetery

Harriet Beecher Stowe was the daughter of a well known protestant preacher. After her mother died when she was four, her uncle Harriet Foote encouraged her interest in culture and her uncle Samuel Foote made her read Byron and Scott.

She worked as a teacher and in 1836 she married the widower Calvin Ellis Stowe, a professor at her father's seminary. They had seven children.

She wrote poems, travel books and novels for children as well as adults. "Uncle Tom's Cabin" (1852) was controversial because it dealt with slavery and aroused much public debate. In 1862 she visited president Lincoln and in Europe she became friendly with George Eliot, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Lady Byron. She met Lady Byron in 1853 during a promotion tour for "Uncle Tom's Cabin" and in 1856 the latter told her many details of her separation from Lord Byron. She also met Oliver Wendell Holmes and her work influenced Caroline Norton.

In reaction to a memoir by Lord Byron's mistress Teresa Guiccioli, she published "The True Story of Lady Byron" as an article in The Atlantic in 1869. She took sides with the late Lady Byron and accused Byron of an incestuous affair with his half sister Augusta. She also depicted Byron as an unreligious alcoholic and Lady Byron as patient and graceful. She wrote:

"From the height at which he might have been happy as the husband of a noble woman, he fell into the depths of a secret adulterous intrigue with a blood relation, so near in consanguinity that discovery must have been utter ruin and expulsion from civilized society."

The article turned the public as well as the press fiercely against her and she wrote the book "Lady Byron vindicated" (1870) in defense of her article. But her book sales declined and she became subject to financial pressures, forcing the family to move from Oakholm to Florida. There they lived quite comfortable from her royalties.

Related persons
• is brother/sister of Beecher, Henry Ward
• knew Browning, Elizabeth Barrett
• wrote about Byron, George Noel Gordon
• met Cassell, John
• met Eliot, George
• visited Gaskell, Elizabeth
• was a friend of Milbanke, Anna Isabella
• influenced Norton, Caroline

• Faust, Langdon Lynne (ed.), American Women Writers (abridged edition), Ungar, New York, 1988
Harriet Beecher Stowe
Harriet Beecher Stowe Defends Lord Byron's Wife - The Atlantic

Beecher, Henry Ward

Published: 01 Jan 2006
Last update: 29 Dec 2002