Synopses & Reviews
The classic tale that awakened a nation a nation about life under the slave system.
The story follows the life and vicissitudes of Uncle Tom, and portrays the humanity of an enslaved black people and the moral evil of their enslavement.
First published in 1859, and set in eighteenth-century Newport, Rhode Island, The Minister's Wooing is a historical novel and domestic comedy that satirizes Calvinism, celebrating its intellectual and moral integrity while critiquing its rigid theology. Mary Scudder lives with her widowed mother in a modest middle-class home. Dr. Hopkins, a Calvinist minister who boards with them, is dedicated to helping the slaves arriving at Newport and calls for the abolition of slavery. The pious Mary admires him but is also in love with the passionate but skeptical James Marvyn who, hungry for adventure, joins the crew of a ship setting sail for exotic destinations. When James is presumed lost at sea, Mary fears for his soul, and consents to marry the good Doctor. With important insights on slavery, history, and gender, as well as characters based on historical figures, The Minister's Wooing is, as Susan Harris notes in her Introduction, "an historical novel, like Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter or Catharine Sedgwick's Hope Leslie or A New England Tale; it is an attempt through fiction to create a moral, intellectual, and affective history for New England."
About the Author
Harriet Beecher Stowe
(1811-1896) was born in Litchfield, Connecticut, daughter of the Reverend Lyman Beecher of the local Congregational Church. In 1832, the family moved to Cincinnati, where Harriet married Calvin Ellis Stowe, a professor at the seminary, in 1836. The border town of Cincinnati was alive with abolitionist conflict and there Mrs. Stowe took an active part in community life. She came into contact with fugitive slaves, and learned from friends and from personal visits what life was like for the Negro in the South. In 1850, the Fugitive Slave Law was passed, and that same year Harriet’s sister-in-law urged the author to put her feelings about the evils of slavery into words. Uncle Tom’s Cabin
was first published serially during 1851-52 in The National Era, and in book form in 1852. In one year more than 300,000 copies of the novel were sold. Mrs. Stowe continued to write, publishing eleven other novels and numerous articles before her death at the age of eighty-five in Hartford, Connecticut.
Ann Douglas teaches English at Columbia University. Her books include Terrible Honesty: Mongrel Manhattan in the 1920s and The Feminization of American Culture.