When Uncle Tom's Cabin was published in 1852, it became an international blockbuster, selling more than 300,000 copies in the United States alone in its first year. Progressive for her time, Harriet Beecher Stowe was one of the earliest writers to offer a shockingly realistic depiction of slavery. Her stirring indictment and portrait of human dignity in the most inhumane circumstances enlightened hundreds of thousands by revealing the human costs of slavery, which had until then been cloaked and justified by the racist misperceptions of the time. Langston Hughes called it "a moral battle cry," noting that "the love and warmth and humanity that went into its writing keep it alive a century later," and Tolstoy described it as "flowing from love of God and man."
About the Author
Harriet Beecher Stowe was an American author and abolitionist. Born in Litchfield, Connecticut, she was raised in a deeply religious family and educated in a seminary school run by her elder sister. In her adult life, Stowe married biblical scholar and abolitionist Calvin Ellis Stowe, who would later go on to work as Harriet's literary agent, and the two participated in the Underground Railroad by providing temporary refuge for escaped slaves travelling to the American North. Shortly before the outbreak of the American Civil War, Stowe published her most famous work, Uncle Tom's Cabin, a stark and sympathetic depiction of the desperate lives of African American slaves. The book went on to see unprecedented sales, and informed American and European attitudes towards abolition. In the years leading up to her death, suffering from dementia or Alzheimer's disease, Stowe is said to have begun re-writing Uncle Tom's Cabin, almost word-for-word, believing that she was writing the original manuscript once again. Stowe died in July 1, 1896 at the age of eighty-five.
Jane Smiley is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Thousand Acres and more than ten other works of fiction, as well as three works of nonfiction, including a critically acclaimed biography of Charles Dickens. In 2001 she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She lives in northern California.
"Uncle Tom's Cabin is the most powerful and enduring work of art ever written about American slavery."