Tag Archives: Harriet Beecher Stowe

One big happy family

Almost as interesting as the literary connections we’re making on this classical journey are the ties between authors.  It’s almost as if they are one big happy family.  Well, more of a dysfunctional family, but you get the idea.

There was the friendship of Herman Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne that resulted in Moby-Dick being dedicated to The Scarlet Letter‘s author.

Harriet Beecher Stowe and Mark Twain were neighbors.

Now thanks to the intro of Invisible Man, I learned that Ralph Ellison tried his hand at writing all thanks to Richard Wright of Native Son fame.

Imagine all of our WEM authors sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner together.  I can hear the table talk now.


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Posted by on November 25, 2013 in Invisible Man


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Who are the people in your neighborhood?


After spending some quiet moments walking through Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Hartford garden, I turned to my family and said, “It’s time for Twain!” while I walked across Stowe’s backyard to Twain’s home.  That’s right.
They were neighbors

MT house 3

Remember the Sesame Street Song “Who are the People in Your Neighborhood?”

“Ohhh…  aaaaan… is a person in your neighborhood,
in your neighborhood,
in your neigh-bor-hood.
An author is a person in your neighborhood.
A person that you meet  each day.

The Stowe family and the Clemens family were neighbors.  Harriet could walk out her backdoor across the lawn to borrow a cup of sugar from Samuel.

Mark Twain’s family did not just live in this home.  They had it designed and built for them.
And, yes, you can imagine him writing Huckleberry Finn in one of those upper rooms because he did!

MT house 2

The cost of tour tickets was prohibitive for our family of five.  We decided to walk the grounds and spend time in the museum.MT house

The museum and gift shop entertained us with details of Twain’s life.  For example, we learned that Samuel Clemens took his future bride Olivia to see Charles Dickens perform!  We also enjoyed reading many of the humorous quotes attributed to the novelist.  One of my favorites was
Clothes make the man.  Naked people have little or no influence on society.”

Quickly it was time for us to return to our van and continue with our travels, but not before I got a chance to see what it felt like to wear that famous white suit.

C as MT


Want to learn more about Twain’s home in Hartford, CT?  Visit their website.  It was there that I enjoyed taking the virtual tour  of home’s interior.


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Harriet in Hartford


On our way west from Mystic, CT, my family graciously agreed to stop in Hartford for the sake of the blog.  What’s in Hartford, you ask?  The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center and house.

HBS house 2

Sadly, we arrived just as a tour of the home was leaving.  Our schedule was not going to permit us to wait for the next tour, so the docent encouraged us to walk on the grounds and take the self-guided garden tour.  After a quick peek at the Visitor’s Center and gift shop we ambled through Stowe’s garden.HBS house

Stowe wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin while residing in Maine, but she lived in this home from 1873 until her death in 1896.HBS house 5

As we walked around the home, I kept thinking of the center’s motto:
“Her words changed the world.”


Our visit to Hartford was spontaneous.  Other than reading a couple of sentences in a travel brochure, I didn’t know anything about the Center until we arrived.  If you are going to be in Hartford, I’d encourage you to learn more about the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center and the tours they offer by checking out their website.


Posted by on July 11, 2013 in Uncle Tom's Cabin


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For this edition of “What’s on my nightstand?”, I found a sweet children’s biography about one of our recent authors.

Harriet and the Runaway Book
by Johanna Johnston and illustrated by Ronald Himler

I believe this 1977 elementary level biography is out of print, but it would be worth borrowing from your local library.

The book’s summary says, “A biography of the woman who wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin, stressing the experiences and impressions which caused her to write the famous book denouncing slavery.”

In one short sitting I quickly finished this charming book with simple text and lovely illustrations.  I read about how demonstrations of Harriet’s intelligence would cause her father to remark “If only she’d been a boy.”  Later Harriet would realize that “There was something she could do even if she was a girl.  She could write so that people paid attention.”

Harriet and the Runaway Book:  It was on my nightstand, but now I’m going to pass it on to the nightstands of my children so they can be inspired by Mrs. Stowe’s story.

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Posted by on October 18, 2012 in Uncle Tom's Cabin


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Children and Uncle Tom’s Cabin

At our wrap-up discussion, Jeannette brought up the topic of children’s versions of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.  For previous novels I have delighted in scouring my library’s database for abridged and annotated children’s copies of our current book.  Jeannette said that she had seen children’s books adapted from Stowe’s classic: some versions focus on one part of the novel such as Topsy.  I promised myself that I would do some research now that summer is here.

I have found nothing.  Countless editions of the unabridged book but nothing specifically written for children.

I searched the Great Illustrated Classics: sixty-six books including such WEM titles as The Red Badge of Courage, Jane Eyre, and Moby-Dick, but no Uncle Tom’s Cabin.  There are over forty titles in the Classic Starts series but still no UTC.

My local library has a couple of children’s biographies about Stowe but nothing else.

Why?  In our wrap-up we discussed the writer’s style.  Stowe the abolitionist wanted to make sure that everyone who read her book understood everything she was saying.  While it took me a bit to “get into” reading the slave dialect, I relied very little on my kindle’s dictionary feature.  My children would be able to handle the vocabulary.

Why am I not finding this classic for children?

Is it the content?  Truthfully, I’ve debated about whether or not I should encourage my children to share in my classical experience; especially as we start Madame Bovary.  Book about adultery?  ummm not sure I want that on their summer reading list.  But a book about slavery?  I can’t imagine Mrs. Beecher Stowe shielded her children from this topic.

Help me out, blog friends.
Have you seen versions of Stowe’s book geared for children?


Posted by on June 14, 2012 in Uncle Tom's Cabin


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Whatever happend to…

Has anyone else missed George and Eliza Harris?  Oh, and little Harry too!

Remember way back in chapter XVII?  They were being aided by Quakers.  We left them holed up with guns, pursued by slave hunters, fleeing for the north.  Now, twenty chapters later, we finally find out what happened to the runaway family.

Excuse me. Mrs. Stowe?  I was beginning to wonder what had happened to your book’s characters.  Thanks for finally filling me in.  So why did you take such a long break from this storyline?

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Posted by on June 7, 2012 in Uncle Tom's Cabin


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What’s the Problem?

Chapter 19 (in which nothing much plot-wise happens) puts forth the theory that the real problem is not the abuse of slavery, but the institution of slavery.   I know that H. B. Stowe uses the entire book as as platform to discuss slavery-related issues, but I think that maybe while writing Chapter 19, she really expresses her personal feelings through the dialogue between Miss Ophelia and St. Claire.  I can almost picture her scribbling furiously at her writing desk, ignoring all impending calamity from her many children, and letting her frustration out.   Listen to the following quotes – don’t you just hear the voice of Harriet?

(speaking of slavery)  Planters, who have money to make by it, clergymen, who have planters to please, politicians who want to rule by it, may warp and bend language and ethics to a degree that shall astonish the world at their ingenuity; they can press nature and the Bible, and nobody knows what else, into the service; but, after all, neither they nor the world believe in it one particle the more.  It comes from the devil, that’s the short of it; and, to my mind, it’s a pretty respectable specimen of what he can do in his own line.

Talk of the abuses of slavery!  Humbug!   The thing itself is the essence of all abuse!

….there have been times when I have thought,  if the whole country would sink, and hide all this injustice and misery from the light, I would willingly sink with it.

Are you such a sweet innocent as to suppose nobody in this world ever does what they don’t think is right?

One thing is for certain – Harriet Beecher Stowe was extremely passionate about the topic of slavery.   She managed to write a book that shows slavery from all possible angles, and must have left every reader either furious, guilty or resolved.   It would be impossible, in my opinion, to read this book and not be very moved.

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Posted by on May 30, 2012 in Uncle Tom's Cabin


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