Let Her Speak for Herself: Nineteenth-Century Women Writing on the Women of Genesis

By Marion Ann Taylor; Heather E. Weir | Go to book overview
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§29 Harriet Beecher Stowe
(1811–1896)

Harriet Beecher Stowe was the seventh of thirteen children of Lyman Beecher (1775–1863), a famous Congregational minister and seminary president. She received a fine education at home and at Hartford Female Seminary, a school established by her older sister, Catharine. She obtained a remarkable theological education from her father. As Mary Kelley suggested, "Had Stowe been a male she undoubtedly would have followed her father's example and embarked upon a ministerial career."37 After her marriage to the distinguished biblical scholar Calvin Ellis Stowe in 1836, she wrote for local religious periodicals and newspapers to supplement her husband's inadequate salary. She is best remembered for her novel Uncle Tom's Cabin, originally published as a serial (1851–1852). Her later prose writings on the Bible, Woman in Sacred History (1873) and Footsteps of the Master (1878), are particularly fine examples of the interpretive work of a woman who effectively blended the resources of the male academy and the church with insights and questions honed in a woman's world. Stowe constantly relied on her husband's literary and scholarly judgment and used him as a resource for her own writings.38

36 Here Ashton quotes Aguilar without noting her source.

37 Mary Kelley, Private Woman, Public Stage: Literary Domesticity in Nineteenth-Century
America
(New York: Oxford University Press, 1984), 82.

38 Marie Caskey wrote: "Calvin read and criticized her drafts, suggested lines of investiga-
tion and brought many sources, including apocryphal and traditionary ones, to her attention"
(Chariot of Fire: Religion and the Beecher Family "New Haven: Yale University Press, 1978",
183).

-158-

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