In the shadow of giants, or “So you’re the little lady whose book started this big war”

Two new additions to the collection, and what may well be a collecting coup – a potentially previously unknown image of Harriet Beecher Stowe, by Gurney of New York.

Harriet Beecher Stowe
Harriet Beecher Stowe

For those unfamiliar with who Harriet Beecher Stowe was, she was the daughter of a deeply intellectual preacher and abolitionist, Lyman Beecher. Her brother, Henry Ward Beecher, would become a leading figure in the abolition movement of his own, and a major intellectual light in Victorian-era America.Henry Ward Beecher, from the New York Times

Even though Henry was an oratorical and political powerhouse in his day, famous (or infamous, depending on your Union or Confederate sympathies), Harriet Beecher Stowe eclipsed him in his fame as a result of a book she wrote, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”.

It is reported that upon being introduced to Harriet Beecher Stowe in 1862, Abraham Lincoln fondly commented she was “the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war.”

Although President Lincoln’s comment was certainly made in jest, in truth, Stowe’s novel was indeed instrumental in awakening the abolitionist cause, which was a major factor in turning a nation against itself for four arduous years.

* see linked article below for citation

For an excellent biography of Harriet Beecher Stowe, read Harriet Beecher Stowe biography, Ohio State University History department

Here is a photo of Henry and Harriet together, from Wikipedia-

Henry Ward Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe

This photo of Henry Ward Beecher, my other acquisition in this pair, is one by Mathew Brady, published by E&HT Anthony and as such is a common image in average condition.

Henry Ward Beecher, by Brady
Henry Ward Beecher, by Brady

Acquiring this image of Harriet Beecher Stowe in many ways closes a circle for me as I now have a face to go with the book, of which I own a rather tatty copy of the 1852 first printing of the first British edition of the book.

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