Right next door to the Mark Twain House is the Harriet Beecher Stowe House. As a history nerd this was a pure delight. Two houses of historical people…well it was almost overwhelming for me. After the tour of Mark Twain’s place we walked over to the Stowe house and signed up for the 2pm tour.
Stowe became famous after publishing Uncle Tom’s Cabin during the years 1851-1852. It was published in a serial format in the weekly newspaper the National Era. According to our guide, initially it wasn’t supposed to be so long, but due to the story’s popularity Stowe continued releasing more installments. The novel had a tremendous impact on many people and changed how some Americans felt about slavery. If you haven’t read this work I would highly recommend the novel not only for its historical impact, but it is an entertaining novel. The novel’s impact was felt worldwide and in the visitors center you can see covers of the novel from around the world.
The success of the novel was also a financial success for Stowe and allowed her to write for a living. I learned that Stowe’s first check was actually written to her husband since married woman during her time didn’t have rights to their own earnings. Fortunately for Stowe, her husband was liberal and not jealous of her success and didn’t keep the money just for himself. I found this interesting since Stowe’s book was critical of slavery and as a woman, she didn’t have many more rights than slaves.
The house is not as fancy as Twain’s. However, our guide pointed out that when Twain moved into his Hartford home he was younger and just starting out while Stowe had already acquired fame and wealth. Also she was older and had downsized to a less elaborate home.
One aspect of the tour surprised me since I didn’t have any knowledge of Stowe’s other skills. I learned that Stowe was also an artist even though she did not have any formal training. She completed many delightful floral paintings, some of which hang in the home and can be seen on the tour. No photographs are allowed inside the home, so I am not able to share these with you. However, if you find yourself in Hartford some day, I would suggest this tour and the Mark Twain tour. Both are informative and well worth it.