Harriet Beecher Stowe

Harriet Beecher Stowe (Handout)

'Uncle Tom's Cabin" by Hartford's Harriet Beecher Stowe was the book that changed America. Almost as soon as it was published in 1852, there were unauthorized stage adaptations.

In 1929, The Courant published a story describing how attitudes about the play were changing.

"When I saw it some 20 years ago, the capacity audience was about equally divided between the naive and the sophisticated. Little Eva died hard. Her final departure was greeted both by weeping and guffaws."

The article also included a recollection of the time when Stowe secretly attended a performance of the play just a few years after the book's publication.

Stowe belonged to a religious group, the article said, "that regarded 'The Theater' as wicked. ... I think she had told me she had never been in her life. I procured the manager's box, and we entered privately, she being well muffled. She sat in the shade of the curtains of our box, and watched the play attentively. I never saw such delight upon a human face as she displayed when she first comprehended the full power of Mrs. Howard's Topsy. She scarcely spoke during the evening but her expression was eloquent — smiles and tears succeeding each other through the whole."