June 5: Uncle Tom’s Cabin
On this date in 1851, Harriet Beecher Stowe published the first installment of Uncle Tom’s Cabin in the anti-slavery newspaper, The National Era. Uncle Tom’s Cabin became the best-selling novel of the 19th century and fueled the abolitionist cause in the 1850s. Our audiobook is a 1904 adaptation for children by Henrietta Marshall.
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From the Author’s Preface
This tale…was told to grown-up people by a kind and gentle lady with a big loving heart. This lady was called Harriet Beecher Stowe, and she told the story to grown-up people to make them think.
We read in history of kings and queens who did great things, but the lady who wrote this book was only a simple person like ourselves, yet she did such a great thing in telling this story that she helped to make history just as much as many of these kings and queens, and perhaps her name will be remembered as long as theirs.
…I have tried to tell the story as much as possible as Harriet Beecher Stowe did, for I do not think any one could tell it better.
A collection of letters to and from Harriet Beecher Stowe includes one from Oliver Wendell Holmes who reflects on the difficulty of writing after such a successful work as Uncle Tom’s Cabin. He quotes Dogberry in Much Ado about Nothing, “Comparisons are odious,” although Shakespeare turns that into the malapropism, “Comparisons are odorous.”