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Stowe, Harriet Beecher - Three Novels

Harriet Beecher Stowe

Three Novels

Uncle Tom's Cabin • The Minister's Wooing • Oldtown Folks

"It [Uncle Tom's Cabin] has rightly been called "the most influential work of fiction in American history."
—Fayetteville Observer-Times
Overview  |  Note on the Texts  |  Reviews  |  Table of Contents

This edition of Harriet Beecher Stowe's three most important novels uses the texts of the first American book edition of each. Two of these first appeared in serial publications--Uncle Tom's Cabin in National Era, June 1851-April 1852, and The Minister's Wooing in Atlantic Monthly, December 1858-December 1859. Both the periodical and book publications contain extensive punctuation changes from Stowe's original manuscript, for she relied primarily on dashes, and as she wrote in 1868, "My printers always inform me that I know nothing of punctuation, and I give thanks that I have no responsibility for any of its absurdities!" Since Stowe did some proofreading and correcting for the book publication, based on the periodical publication, the book edition represents Stowe's intentions more completely.

The first edition of Uncle Tom's Cabin (Boston: J. P. Jewett, 1852) appeared in two volumes and contained some minor revisions. Stowe changed the name of Senator Burr to Senator Bird and corrected portions of the text. In addition, she wrote a preface for the book. Stowe's identification, in a footnote, of Rev. Dr. Joel Parker of Philadelphia as the author of the view that the evils of slavery were linked with evils "inseparable from any other relations in social and domestic life" led to an extended controversy with Parker, although the footnote was removed in later printings. Stowe's decreasing correction of Negro dialect in the novel indicates her increasing confidence in her use of black colloquial language.

The Minister's Wooing was written in monthly installments in 1858 and published in book form in 1859 by Derby and Jackson of New York. Stowe's letters reveal that she proofread the novel by reading aloud to friends the periodical version when the proofs arrived from the Atlantic Monthly. Presumably she made corrections in the book version at that time, since there are numerous differences between the periodical and book versions of the text.

Oldtown Folks (Boston: Fields, Osgood, 1869) is the only one of Harriet Beecher Stowe's major novels that was not originally published in periodical form. The sale of some of her previous works had disappointed her, and she hoped that by bringing out Oldtown Folks directly in book form it would do better. The plates for the original Fields, Osgood edition were used for many subsequent reprintings by Houghton, Mifflin and Company.

The standards for American English continue to fluctuate and in some ways were conspicuously different in earlier periods from what they are now. In nineteenth-century writings, for example, a word might be spelled in more than one way, even in the same work, and such variations might be carried into print. Commas were sometimes used expressively to suggest the movements of voice, and capitals were sometimes meant to give significances to a word beyond those it might have in its uncapitalized form. Since modernization would remove these effects, this volume has preserved the spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and wording of the first editions, which, of the available texts, appear most faithful to Stowe's intentions.

The present edition is concerned only with representing the texts of these editions; it does not attempt to reproduce features of the typographic design--such as the display capitalization of chapter openings. Footnotes within the text are by Stowe. Open contractions are retained as they appeared in the original texts. However some changes have been made. A Table of Contents has been added to The Minister's Wooing corresponding to the chapter titles in the original edition. Typographical errors have also been corrected.

Copyright 1995–2011 Literary Classics of the United States, Inc.
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ISBN: 978-0-94045001-1
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