Uncle Tom's Cabin Questions and Answers
by Harriet Beecher Stowe

Uncle Tom's Cabin book cover
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How many copies of Uncle Tom's Cabin have been sold worldwide to date?

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D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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According to David S. Reynolds's Mightier than the Sword: Uncle Tom's Cabin and the Battle for America, Uncle Tom's Cabin sold 300,000 copies in the United States in its first year of publication (1852) and more than a million in England in that same year. Two million copies had sold worldwide by 1857. This is a vast number considering that the world population was less than 1.5 billion through most of the nineteenth century, only a fraction of this population was literate, and books were relatively more expensive than today.

Uncle Tom's Cabin became the best-selling novel of the nineteenth century; it lagged behind only the Bible as the bestseller among all books. To date, it has been translated into seventy languages.

While it is difficult to ascertain an exact number, in part because of the many bootlegged copies, it has over time sold many millions of copies. Several children's adaptations of the novel have also sold well and been translated into different languages.

The chief point is that the novel was a worldwide phenomenon and a vastly influential book. However, sales fell in the twentieth century, as the novel was criticized for its racist stereotypes and patronizing attitude toward black people.

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ms-mcgregor eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Given the fact that it has been sold world-wide for over a century, it is almost impossible to know the exact number of copies that have been sold. No book, except the Bible, has ever been as popular. It sold 10,000 copies in its first week and by the end of its first year, over 300,000 copies had been sold. It was the first American novel to sell over one million copies However, the book's popularity faded at the end of the nineteenth century. It was overshadowed by "Ben Hur" and then "Gone With the Wind" in the 1930's. By the end of World War II, the popularity of the book fell tremendously. In 2001, only 18,000 copies were sold. However, it has been translated into more that 20 languages. A rough guess of the number of copies sold might be 10 million, but that is only a guess.

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