Uncel Tom's Cabin
A first edition of Uncle Tom’s Cabin that was likely pirated ©Author Adventures

The House

The Harriet Beecher Stowe House in Cincinnati is where the author lived before she was married and, given southern Ohio’s role with the Underground Railroad, the location has some striking connections to the river-crossing scene of her world-famous novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The House remains available for group tours. (Also read about her house in our Connecticut section.) Read more about the author here: britannica.com.

The Bestseller

Harriet Beecher Stowe’s classic 1852 book made publishing history as the fastest selling book of its time. Publishers pirated and reprinted it in so many countries that she had to travel to many countries, worldwide, to protect her ownership of the work in each nation’s court.

The best description of her book’s success we found is here: http://specialcollections.vassar.edu/exhibit-highlights/2001-2005/stowe/essay2.html. To this day, pirated copies still turn up in all kinds of places from antique stores to library stacks to ebay. In the case of the book pictured on this page, a publisher in Great Britain was in such a rush to sell copies of the book in the year that it was originally published that the publisher ignored the printer’s mistake of a misspelled title on the spine. This copy was inscribed to a resident of Scotland around the time of the author’s famous visit there, where she was treated like a rock star.

Her History

In fact, she was born into an already famous family, as one of the nine children of a popular preacher named Lyman Beecher. Four of his five sons became preachers as well, including Henry Ward Beecher whose fame surpassed his father’s during the late 19th century and beyond. Harriet, however, was the only record-setter with the fastest selling bestseller the world had ever known.

The Harriet Beecher Stowe House is the first stop on our Ohio Trail!

Patricia Smart