Harriet Beecher Stowe and the Beecher Preachers Summary
There was much more to Harriet Beecher Stowe than the writing of Uncle Tom's Cabin, but such is the stature of that book as one of the most influential novels ever published, and anyone who studies Stowe's life is likely to emphasize the writing of her novel. Given that the novel is part of the curricula of many schools, discussing it would be one of the primary tasks of a biographer. Further, modern attitudes toward the novel are very mixed, with some people trying to ban the book from schools, and others hailing the book as one of America's best. Thus, Fritz sets for herself the twofold task of explaining how the novel came to be written and why it became almost instantly influential, making Stowe one the world's most famous writers in a matter of months.
Fritz identifies Stowe's family life and Stowe's reading as the principal influences on how Stowe became a writer and on the subjects she chose. According to Fritz, writing was a form of liberation for Stowe, who felt painfully constrained by her father's view of what was proper for women to do, and Harriet Beecher Stowe and the Beecher Preachers is a study of how the liberation that writing brought Stowe turned into passions for the liberation of others and for fiction that condemned unreasonable restrictions on the freedoms to speak and act as one chooses. Fritz's prose is lively, her research sound, and her blending of quotations from letters and other sources into her narrative of the remarkable life of Stowe is masterful.