The “Little Woman” Who Wrote “The” Book: Purebred Dog Owner

It was the best selling book in history second only to the Bible. It sold even more copies in Great Britain than it did in the United States where the story was set.

Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin, Newfoundland, King Charles Spaniel, Mastiff

Harriet Beecher Stowe

It caused Abraham Lincoln to say upon meeting the author ten years after the book was published, “So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war!”

“It” was Uncle Tom’s Cabin written in 1852 as an outcry against slavery after the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act, and “it” was written by Harriet Beecher Stowe – purebred dog owner.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin, of course, was the book that made Harriet Beecher Stowe a household name, but she wrote other books that revealed her love of dogs, including Our Dogs and Other Storiescollection of recollections of the dogs of Stowe’s childhood with a chapter dedicated to each dog. They included “Carlo,” her ‘full-blooded Mastiff,’ “Rover,” her Newfoundland, and “Florence,” a King Charles Spaniel from the villa of the Russian Prince Demidoff.  Interestingly, Harriet Beecher Stowe included a Newfoundland named, “Bruno” in Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

Harriet’s final book was for children: A Dog’s Mission was published in 1881.

Sadly, Harriet Beecher Stowe suffered from dementia or Alzheimer s disease in the years before her death at the age of eighty-five. It’s said that she began to re-write Uncle Tom s Cabin almost word-for-word, believing that she was writing the original manuscript. She died in 1896.

Image: Daguerreotype of a child with a dog from the Beecher-Stowe Collection

3 thoughts on “The “Little Woman” Who Wrote “The” Book: Purebred Dog Owner”

  1. Thank you for this informative page, and especially for references to Stowe’s two dog books. It appears that Our Dog and Other Stories was published as early as 1882 under the title Stories about Our Dogs. University of Florida has a digital copy in its holdings under this title. The same book, titled Our Dog and Other Stories appears in the 1886 in the Publisher’s Circular as a new publication of Thomas Nelson and Sons. It seems too that A Dog’s Mission was published one year earlier than you have printed. A digitized copy of the book at Princeton Univ. Library verifies this. I hope this is useful.

    • It’s wonderfully useful, Maurice, and we appreciate the trouble you took to let us know! We’ll do a wee bit of digging and will amend the post to reflect accuracy. Thank you so much for taking the time!

      • A little more digging of my own suggests to me that Stowe wrote three books with references to dogs in the title. Here is a footnote I crafted to an article I am working on about race and canine references in UTC: “According to Margaret Holbrook Hildreth’s _Harriet Beecher Stowe: A Bibliography_, Stowe’s _Stories About Our Dogs_, was the publication of two Edinburgh, Scotland publishers, “William P. Nimmo” and “Simpkin,” dated “1865?” and “1865,” respectively. Although the publication date of the one is uncertain, it does not seem unreasonable to trust Hildreth’s apparent certainty about the other, not least since the stories were in fact previously serialized in _Our Young Folks: An Illustrated Magazine for Boys and Girls_ from March to July 1865. Still, I could locate no extant copy of _Stories About Our Dogs_ dated 1865. My source is a “William P. Nimmo & Co.” edition published in 1882 in the University of Florida Digital Collection.
        It bears mentioning, moreover, that Stowe authored two more works dedicated significantly to stories and personal anecdotes about dogs. _Our Dogs and Other Stories_, published in London by Thomas Nelson & Son, overlaps substantially with _Stories About Our Dogs_ but includes new tales also routinely featuring dogs. A third work, _A Dog’s Mission: Or, the Story of the Old Avery House and Other Stories_, is an 1880 American publication—Hildreth gives 1881, though a digital copy held at Princeton University reveals the earlier date—that derives its title from a short story, “A Dog’s Mission,” previously published in 1880 in _The Youth’s Companion_. Only its title story is a dog story, however, though it is the collection’s longest piece. See Margaret Holbrook Hildreth, _Harriet Beecher Stowe: A Bibliography_ (Hamden, CT: Archon Books, 1976). See, especially, pp. xiv, 112, 114.

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