Uncle Tom's Cabin: Early and Notable Editions
Uncle Tom’s Cabin, one of the most influential books in American history, was written by Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811–1896) to inform readers of the appalling realities of American slavery. First published in March 1852, the novel quickly became an international bestseller, second only in sales at that time to the Bible.
This collection shows a selection of the early and notable editions of the novel in the Libraries' collections, as well as its interesting publishing history. First published by John P. Jewett & Company, it changed ownership among U.S. publishers at least four times before the copyright expired in 1893. Each publisher also attempted to capitalize on its popularity by publishing new and “special” editions, where new elements, illustrations, and commentary were added. As a result, the novel was a bestseller for well over 30 years after it was first published and has continued to inspire numerous other publications and works of art.
Our exhibition Uncle Tom's Cabin: Early and Notable Editions is on view at the National Museum of African American History and Culture from February 28, 2020 – May 6, 2021.