Artifact Corner: Pink & White Tyranny by Harriet Beecher Stowe

Hi Everyone, and welcome back to another artifact corner. Today we will be looking at a book that was published in 1871, by a very famous author, Harriet Beecher Stowe. The book is called Pink and White Tyranny, and the author expressly says that it is not a novel. Beecher Stowe says, “Now, a novel, in our days, is a three-story affair,- a complicated complex, multiform composition.” She later states that this work is, “..this is a little commonplace history, all about one man and one woman, living straight along in one little prosaic town in New England.” This book is 331 pages long, and follows the marriage of John Seymour and Lillie Ellis. It is meant to be a social commentary on the fact that men of the day wanted “sylph-like,” fashionable, delicate women, but were then disappointed to find they had married sylph-like, fashionable, delicate women. It was also Beecher Stowe’s way of warning women away from so called “easy” divorces. I won’t go too much further into the details of the book and spoil it for anyone who may want to read it, but let’s learn a bit more about the author, Harriet Beecher Stowe.

Harriet Beecher Stowe was born on June 14, 1811 in Litchfield CT. She was the 6th of 11 children! Her father was a reverend, and Harriet was raised in a very religious family. Her parents wanted their children to better the world around them, and all seven of her brothers became ministers. Her eldest sister Catherine helped pioneer education for women, and her youngest sister Isabella was one of the founders of the National Women’s Suffrage Movement. In 1824 Harriet began studying at the Hartford female Seminary, which her sister Catherine founded. By 1832 her father had accepted a new position in Cincinnati, OH, and Harriet moved west with the family. It was around this time that she met her husband to be, Calvin Stowe. The pair married and had seven children together. In 1849, the couple lost their then 18 month old son to cholera. The pain was almost unbearable for Harriet, who later said that she channeled that pain to help her write her most famous novel.

In 1851, Harriet Beecher Stowe was contacted by a local abolitionist newspaper to write a piece that would “paint a word picture of slavery.” She started out with the intention of writing three or maybe four chapters that would be published in the newspaper, she wrote more than 40 chapters. The book was published in 1852 under the title “Uncle Tom’s Cabin or Life Among the Lowly,” and was an instant best seller. The book sold more than 300,000 copies in the first year of publication, and was also very popular in Europe. The book however was banned in the South. Harriet and her husband Calvin moved to Maine, and she continued writing. As they got older, they found the harsh New England winters to be a bit too much for them, and so they began to winter in Florida. All throughout her life Harriet Beecher Stowe was an abolitionist and a firm proponent for education for everyone. Harriet passed away on July 1, 1896.

If you are interested in reading Pink & White Tyranny, or any of Beecher Stowe’s works, you can find them readily available online. My only advice would be to view the works as a time capsule, and bear in mind that views towards marriage and women’s rights have changed dramatically in the last 150 years. It is an interesting book, and definitely transports you back to the Victorian mentality. Our book is in very good condition, there is very little wear to the binding or the pages. It is a neat look back at marriage in the 1870’s, and we are very lucky to have it in our collections. Thanks so much for stopping by!

Music: Acoustic Breeze by Benjamin Tissot