Loves Of Harriet Beecher Stowe
As every American schoolchild knows, or ought to know, Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the great anti-slavery novel. Few, including myself, know much more about her. Loves of Harriet Beecher Stowe undertakes to fill this gap.
McFarland looks not only at Stowe, but at her “loves” of the title—chiefly her family members, including Stowe’s brother, the famed preacher Henry Ward Beecher, whose notorious adultery trial is given particular attention here. We also meet Stowe’s good friend Lady Byron, whose posthumous reputation Stowe championed, resulting in controversy both in the United States and in England. Uncle Tom’s Cabin and the sensation it caused are examined in depth, but Stowe’s lesser known writings (one of which, Dred, garnered fulsome praise from George Eliot) are given their fair share of attention, as are her successful reading tours. In addition, McFarland examines Stowe’s views on such diverse issues as spiritualism and women’s rights, introducing us to people such as stockbroker, free-love advocate, and presidential candidate Victoria Woodhull (whom Stowe described succinctly as “this witch”).
As a portrait not only of a fascinating woman but of a vibrant period in American history, Loves of Harriet Beecher Stowe is an illuminating read.