Monday, 7 January 2019

Harriet Beecher Stowe and Charlotte Elizabeth

Harriet Beecher Stowe
Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) was an American abolitionist and author and she is best remembered as the author of Uncle Tom's Cabin..

She was born in Connecticut, the daughter of Rev Lyman Beecher, a Presbyterian minister, and had a good education.  

After that she settled in Cincinnati, Ohio, where her father was president of Lane Theological Seminary, and in due course she married Calvin Ellis Stowe, a Biblical scholar and a professor in the seminary.
Image result for uncle tom's cabin
There had been racist riots in Cincinnati in 1829 when Irish-Americans attacked African-Americans.  Harriet met some of the African-Americans who had suffered in the attacks and when she heard their stories it confirmed her in her opposition to slavery.

Uncle Tom's Cabin was published in 1852 as an anti-slavery novel and it was the best-selling novel of the 19th century.  It was also the second best-selling book of the century, second only to the Bible.  Its first appearance in print was in 1851 as a 40-week serial in the National Era and then the following year it was published as a single volume.

In 1844 she wrote an introduction to The Works of Charlotte Elizabeth, which was published in three volumes.

Charlotte Elizabeth Tonna
These were the works of Charlotte Elizabeth Tonna (1790-1846), a British author who was born Charlotte Elizabeth Browne in Norfolk and was a daughter of a canon of Norwich Cathedral.  She married a British Army officer who had a small estate in Ireland but it was a very unhappy marriage and they separated about 1824.  After the death of her husband in Dublin in 1837, she married Lewis Tonna in 1841.

Charlotte Elizabeth Tonna was an evangelical Protestant and she wrote books, evangelistic tracts and poems on a variety of subjects but always from an evangelical perspective.  She also edited the Protestant Annual and The Christian Lady's Magazine and produced an abridged version of Foxe's Book of Martyrs.

Among her poems were hymns and also several written on Orange themes, including The Maiden City and No Surrender.  She was a fine poet and writing in 1899 the Irish Catholic editor D J O'Donoghue said: 'These are extremely vigorous and popular.  They are quite the best Orange songs that have ever been written.'

She also wrote a novel titled Derry: A Tale of the Revolution.

Sadly Charlotte Elizabeth Tonna is now largely forgotten but those who uphold the Protestant tradition in Ulster and who would share her evangelical Protestant faith could learn much from her fearless defence of truth. Harriet Beecher Stowe spoke well of her and so should we.

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