Uncle Tom's Cabin

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Overview

Uncle Tom's Cabin was a sensation upon its publication in 1852. In its first year it sold 300,000 copies, and has since been translated into more than twenty languages. This powerful story of one slave's unbreakable spirit holds an important place in American history, as it helped solidify the anti-slavery sentiments of the North, and moved a nation to civil war.

By calling attention to the issue of slavery, it has become part of ...

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Uncle Tom's Cabin (Collins Classics)

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Overview

Uncle Tom's Cabin was a sensation upon its publication in 1852. In its first year it sold 300,000 copies, and has since been translated into more than twenty languages. This powerful story of one slave's unbreakable spirit holds an important place in American history, as it helped solidify the anti-slavery sentiments of the North, and moved a nation to civil war.

By calling attention to the issue of slavery, it has become part of our country's literary and historical heritage.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Allen masterfully elicits an array of Southern dialects for Stowe's variety of characters. His thoughtful, engaged performance creates a memorable audio experience." —-AudioFile
From Barnes & Noble
The narrative drive of Stowe's classic novel is often overlooked in the heat of the controversies surrounding its anti-slavery sentiments. In fact, it is a compelling adventure story with richly drawn stories & has earned a place in both literary & American history.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780007902262
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/28/2011
  • Sales rank: 148,529

Meet the Author

Harriet Beecher Stowe

Harriet Beecher, born in Litchfield, CT in 1811, married Lane Theological Seminary professor and ardent critic of slavery Calvin Stowe in 1836. The Stowes supported the Underground Railroad, housing several runaway slaves in their home. Author of numerous fiction and non-fiction works, she is best known for "Uncle Tom's Cabin," published in 1852.

Biography

Harriet Beecher Stowe was born on June 14, 1811, in Litchfield, Connecticut, to Lyman Beecher, a Calvinist preacher and activist in the antislavery movement, and Roxana Foote, a deeply religious woman who died when Stowe was four years old. Precocious and independent as a child, Stowe enrolled in the seminary run by her eldest sister, Catharine, where she received a traditionally "male" education. At the age of twenty-one, she moved to Cincinnati to join her father who had become the president of Lane Theological Seminary, and in 1936 she married Calvin Ellis Stowe, a professor at the seminary and an ardent critic of slavery. The Stowes supported the Underground Railroad and housed several fugitive slaves in their home. They eventually moved to Brunswick, Maine, where Calvin taught at Bowdoin College.

In 1850 congress passed the Fugitive Slave Law, prohibiting assistance to fugitives. Stowe was moved to present her objections on paper, and in June 1851 the first installment of Uncle Tom's Cabin a appeared in the antislavery journal National Era. The forty-year-old mother of seven children sparked a national debate and, as Abraham Lincoln is said to have noted, a war.

Uncle Tom's Cabin: Or, Life Among the Lowly met with mixed reviews when it appeared in book form in 1852 but soon became an international bestseller. Some critics dismissed it as abolitionist propaganda, while others hailed it as a masterpiece. The great Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy praised Uncle Tom's Cabin as "flowing from love of God and man." Stowe presented her sources to substantiate her claims in A Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin: Presenting the Original Facts and Documents Upon Which It Is Based, published in 1853. Another antislavery novel, Dred: A Tale of the Great Dismal Swamp, appeared in 1856 but was received with neither the notoriety nor the success of Uncle Tom's Cabin.

Stowe fueled another controversy in The True Story of Lady Byron's Life (1869), in which she accused the poet Lord Byron of having an incestuous love affair with his half sister, Lady Byron. She also took up the topic of domestic culture in works that include The New Housekeeper's Manual (1873), written with her sister Catharine. Stowe died on July 1, 1896, at age eighty-five, in Hartford, Connecticut.

Author biography from the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of Uncle Tom's Cabin.

Good To Know

After its publication in 1852, Uncle Tom's Cabin sold more copies than any other book up to that point, with the exception of the Bible.

When it was becoming a sensation around the world, Uncle Tom's Cabin was smuggled into Russia, in Yiddish to evade the czarist censor.

Between 1853 and 1859, Stowe made several trips to Europe, and forged friendships with fellow writers George Eliot and Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Christopher Crowfield
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 14, 1811
    2. Place of Birth:
      Litchfield, Connecticut
    1. Date of Death:
      July 1, 1896
    2. Place of Death:
      Hartford, Connecticut

Read an Excerpt

In Which the Reader Is Introduced to a Man of Humanity

Late in the afternoon of a chilly day in February, two gentlemen were sitting alone over their wine, in a well-furnished dining parlor, in the town of P-------, in Kentucky. There were no servants present, and the gentlemen, with chairs closely approaching, seemed to be discussing some subject with great earnestness.

For convenience sake, we have said, hitherto, two gentlemen. One of the parties, however, when critically examined, did not seem, strictly speaking, to come under the species. He was a short, thick-set man, with coarse, commonplace features, and that swaggering air of pretension which marks a low man who is trying to elbow his way upward in the world. He was much over-dressed, in a gaudy vest of many colors, a blue neckerchief, bedropped gayly with yellow spots, and arranged with a flaunting tie, quite in keeping with the general air of the man. His hands, large and coarse, were plentifully bedecked with rings; and he wore a heavy gold watch-chain, with a bundle of seals of portentous size, and a great variety of colors, attached to it, --which, in the ardor of conversation, he was in the habit of flourishing and jingling with evident satisfaction. His conversation was in free and easy defiance of Murray's Grammar, and was garnished at convenient intervals with various profane expressions, which not even the desire to be graphic in our account shall induce us to transcribe.

His companion, Mr. Shelby, had the appearance of a gentleman; and the arrangements of the house, and the general air of the housekeeping, indicated easy, and even opulent circumstances. As we before stated,the two were in the midst of an earnest conversation.

"That is the way I should arrange the matter," said Mr. Shelby.

"I can't make trade that way--I positively can't, Mr. Shelby," said the other, holding up a glass of wine between his eye and the light.

"Why, the fact is, Haley, Tom is an uncommon fellow; he is certainly worth that sum anywhere,--steady, honest, capable, manages my whole farm like a clock."

"You mean honest, as niggers go," said Haley, helping himself to a glass of brandy.

"No; I mean, really, Tom is a good, steady, sensible, pious fellow. He got religion at a camp-meeting, four years ago; and I believe he really did get it. I've trusted him, since then, with everything I have,--money, house, horses,--and let him come and go round the country; and I always found him true and square in everything."

"Some folks don't believe there is pious niggers, Shelby," said Haley, with a candid flourish of his hand, "but I do. I had a fellow, now, in this yer last lot I took to Orleans--'t was as good as a meetin, now, really, to hear that critter pray; and he was quite gentle and quiet like. He fetched me a good sum, too, for I bought him cheap of a man that was 'bliged to sell out; so I realized six hundred on him. Yes, ,I consider religion a valeyable thing in a nigger, when it's the genuine article, and no mistake."

"Well, Tom's got the real article, if ever a fellow had," rejoined the other. "Why, last fall, I let him go to Cincinnati alone, to do business for me, and bring home five hundred dollars. 'Tom,' says I to him, 'I trust you because I think you're a Christian--I know you wouldn't cheat.' Tom comes back, sure enough; I knew he would. Some low fellows, they say, said to him--`Tom, why don't you make tracks for Canada?' 'Ah, master trusted me, and I couldn't,'--they told me about it. I am sorry to part with Tom, I must say. You ought to let him cover the whole balance of the debt; and you would, Haley, if you had any conscience."

"Well, I've got just as much conscience as any man in business can afford to keep,--just a little, you know, to swear by, as 't were," said the trader, jocularly; "and, then, I'm ready to do anything in reason to 'blige friends; but this yer, you see, is a leetle too hard on a fellow--a leetle too hard." The trader sighed contemplatively, and poured out some more brandy.

"Well, then, Haley, how will you trade?" said Mr. Shelby, after an uneasy interval of silence.

"Well, haven't you a boy or gal that you could throw in with Tom?"

"Hum!--none that I could well spare; to tell the truth, it's only hard necessity makes me willing to sell at all. I don't like parting with any of my hands, that's a fact."

Here the door opened, and a small quadroon boy, between four and five years of age, entered the room. There was something in his appearance remarkably beautiful and engaging. His black hair, fine as floss silk, hung in glossy curls about his round, dimpled face, while a pair of large dark eyes, full of fire and softness, looked out from beneath the rich, long lashes, as he peered curiously into the apartment. A gay robe of scarlet and yellow plaid, carefully made and neatly fitted, set off to advantage the dark and rich style of his beauty; and a certain comic air of assurance, blended with bashfulness, showed that he had been not unused to being petted and noticed by his master.

"Hulloa, Jim Crow!" said Mr. Shelby, whistling, and snapping a bunch of raisins towards him, "pick that up, now!"

The child scampered, with all his little strength, after the prize, while his master laughed.

"Come here, Jim Crow," said he. The child came up, and the master patted the curly head, and chucked him under the chin.

"Now, Jim, show this gentleman how you can dance and sing." The boy commenced one of those wild, grotesque songs common among the negroes, in a rich, clear voice, accompanying his singing with many comic evolutions of the hands, feet, and whole body, all in perfect time to the music.

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Table of Contents

Vol. I
I In Which the Reader Is Introduced to a Man of Humanity 7
II The Mother 17
III The Husband and Father 20
IV An Evening in Uncle Tom's Cabin 25
V Showing the Feelings of Living Property on Changing Owners 37
VI Discovery 45
VII The Mother's Struggle 54
VIII Eliza's Escape 67
IX In Which It Appears That a Senator Is But a Man 82
X The Property Is Carried Off 99
XI In Which Property Gets into an Improper State of Mind 108
XII Select Incident of Lawful Trade 122
XIII The Quaker Settlement 139
XIV Evangeline 148
XV Of Tom's New Master, and Various Other Matters 158
XVI Tom's Mistress and Her Opinions 174
XVII The Freeman's Defence 193
XVIII Miss Ophelia's Experiences and Opinions 209
Vol. II
XIX Miss Ophelia's Experiences and Opinions, Continued 226
XX Topsy 245
XXI Kentuck 260
XXII "The Grass Withereth--the Flower Fadeth" 265
XXIII Henrique 272
XXIV Foreshadowings 280
XXV The Little Evangelist 286
XXVI Death 291
XXVII "This Is the Last of Earth" 304
XXVIII Reunion 312
XXIX The Unprotected 326
XXX The Slave Warehouse 334
XXXI The Middle Passage 344
XXXII Dark Places 350
XXXIII Cassy 359
XXXIV The Quadroon's Story 366
XXXV The Tokens 377
XXXVI Emmeline and Cassy 383
XXXVII Liberty 390
XXXVIII The Victory 396
XXXIX The Stratagem 406
XL The Martyr 416
XLI The Young Master 423
XLII An Authentic Ghost Story 429
XLIII Results 436
XLIV The Liberator 444
XLV Concluding Remarks 447
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Introduction

A Reading Group Guide for Uncle Tom's Cabin

About the Book

Arthur Shelby is a good man — kind and fair — but he has fallen into financial difficulties. The only way he can set things right is by selling two of his slaves: the strong and faithful Tom, and Eliza's charming young son. Shelby's decision sets in motion two series of events that are as different as night and day, as both Tom and Eliza are forced to leave the Shelby estate. The journeys they take, and the people they meet along the way, lie at the heart of Uncle Tom's Cabin, a story that served as a searing indictment of the slave system that existed at the time.

Discussion Topics

  • How do the other people on the Shelby estate react to news of the sale of Tom and Harry? What is Mrs. Shelby's objection? How does young "Mas'r George" deal with the news of his friend's departure? How do the other slaves react?
  • Many different people help Eliza during her flight — Mr. Symmes, the Bird family, the community of Quakers. What similarities and differences are there among all these people? What reasons does each of them give for helping Eliza?
  • Much of the dialogue in the book is given over to a debate on the morality of slavery. Most of the slave owners feel that they are "above" the slave traders. Is this true? Why do you think that so many members of the clergy defended slavery?
  • Discuss the author's attitude toward her black characters. Do you think this was an acceptable point of view at the time? What do you think would have to be changed if the story were being told today?
  • Miss Ophelia's presence in the story allows the author to addressNorthern attitudes toward blacks. As St. Clare tells her, "You loathe them as you would a snake or a toad, yet you are indignant at their wrongs. You would not have them abused; but you don't want to have anything to do with them yourselves." Is this a fair assessment of Miss Ophelia's feelings? What happens to change her attitude?
  • Discuss the death scenes of both Eva and Uncle Tom. In what ways are they similar? In what ways are they different? Why do you think that the author devoted so much time to these death scenes?
  • Children play a large part in the story of Uncle Tom's Cabin. What do Eva, Topsy, George Shelby, Harry, and Henrique each symbolize? Would the story have been the same if their characters had been adult?

Activities

  • Trace the route of the Underground Railroad. Find information about some of the major stops, as well as some of the famous "conductors" that helped slaves escape. Also, research what the punishment was for helping the slaves.
  • Eliza's escape across the river has always been popular with dramatists and actors. See if you can find examples of this scene being acted out (hint: it figures prominently in the movie The King and I). Perform this scene yourself, and any other scenes you think lend themselves well to performance.
  • Uncle Tom's Cabin was very controversial when it was first published, and it's often said to be a contributing factor to the Civil War. Research reactions to the book throughout its history.
    1. Investigate the institution of slavery. What were the economic factors that supported it? Could slavery have ended without a war?
    2. Quakers played an important role in the abolitionist movement. How did their beliefs make them particularly well suited for the abolitionist cause?
    3. A great deal of attention is given in the book to descriptions of food. Find some traditional Southern recipes and try them out.
    4. Find other books and writings that were important in the fight for civil rights. Compare them to Uncle Tom's Cabin, both in terms of style and historical context.

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Reading Group Guide

Uncle Tom, Topsy, Sambo, Simon Legree, little Eva: their names are American bywords, and all of them are characters in Harriet Beecher Stowe's remarkable novel of the pre-Civil War South. Uncle Tom's Cabin was revolutionary in 1852 for its passionate indictment of slavery and for its presentation of Tom, "a man of humanity," as the first black hero in American fiction. Labeled racist and condescending by some contemporary critics, it remains a shocking, controversial, and powerful work -- exposing the attitudes of white nineteenth-century society toward "the peculiar institution" and documenting, in heartrending detail, the tragic breakup of black Kentucky families "sold down the river." An immediate international sensation, Uncle Tom's Cabin sold 300,000 copies in the first year, was translated into thirty-seven languages, and has never gone out of print: its political impact was immense, its emotional influence immeasurable.


From the Paperback edition.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 329 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 330 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2012

    Do not buy this!!!!

    This is only the first 4 chapters!!!!!!!! DO NOT WASTE YOUR MONEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    14 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2011

    Beware

    Book starts at chapter twenty nine. Save time and nook memory. Do not bother with this edition.

    12 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 3, 2007

    Very realistic!

    Uncle Tom's Cabin is an eloquent classic that vividly exposes the brutality of slavery. The personality and morals of various characters in the novel really engage one's attention, reflecting the mindsets of individuals from 19th Century Southern Society. Although an extremely long read with an uninteresting plot, the novel's realistic and gruesome account of the lives of slaves will surely astonish and intrigue the reader.

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2009

    Amazing

    This book is a classic. It is a touching story about what slaves went through. It was even good enough to be put in the movie The King and I. That is what first moved me to read this book. Seriously give this book a try. You wont be disappointed.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2013

    And

    This is a fantastic book.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 28, 2011

    A Classic

    I had to read this book for a project in my American literature class last year and I really enjoyed it. Mrs. Stowe did an excellent job with characterization and descriptions. After researching her use of literary techniques, I could really appreciate her style of writing. It was a very well developed story with very interesting characters, all off them had their own story. I love how you could see the author's faith shine through in the book. It really gives you a different perspective on the religion of the day. I recommend this to readers who are up to a challenge as it is a rather hard book to just sit and read.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2012

    Amanda

    Greetings...My godly parent is Athena, and I rped at greece for a while.

    2 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2012

    Classic

    After so many years i finally read this classic and i must say its an emotional rollercoaster.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2011

    The Ugliness of Slavery

    While the events described in this book may seem highly unethical, the author had little recourse except to depict them in a straightforward manner. Slavery was not and is not ever a pretty picture. Readers turned off by the content are forced to acknowledge the degrading conditions of the oppressed in the antebellum U. S. South.

    That Uncle Tom could maintain such a positive sense of self-dignity and deep spirituality through the atrocities visited upon him, represents the indomitable spirit displayed by many African Americans during the era portrayed in this novel.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 27, 2011

    A must read,, i loved it.

    As an african american i think this is a must read. I never knew how compelling this book would be. Even with the errors it was still worthy.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2005

    Stowe's Classic

    This classic is a must read for those who have missed this tale of the pain of human suffering in slavery...a pain that must not be forgotton, ever. I enjoyed this book as a 'reading again' experience, as classics such as this always have new meanings and enlightment with each reading. I highly recommend this book!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2013

    Kirsten

    A skinny brunette walked in. Her dark blue eyes twinkled, and her slightly curly hair flowed nicely over her shoulders. She had an athletic body, she was flexible, and her personality was Sugar, Spice, and everything in between. She was wearing a blackbsee through shirt with a neon pink bra, black booty shorts, and neon pink stilettos. Herdark hair had a neon pink at the tips and she ad dimples. "Hey."

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2013

    Jenjen

    Awesome! We are studying this in social studies!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 25, 2013

    Great book.

    Something that everyone should read!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2012

    good but sad

    Good book but sad how slaves lived that way

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2011

    Thought provoking

    Made me think of slavery in a whole new way. Highly recommended reading material.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 23, 2011

    Hard To Understand

    I loved the plot of the story, but it was so hard to understand. The language is of the old days, and I feel that the switching of charecter to charecter is very confusting.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 6, 2010

    bad copy

    of course the same great classic, but something went wrong when they tried to convert the scanned pages to text, making it very difficult to read. invest a dollar and get a different copy.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2014

    Worth the effort

    Upon reading this work it was easy to see how it came to influence the end of slavery. The call to action for Christians was well written.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2014

    Cneteqgh

    Fhnjvgytytirqe

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