Harriet Beecher Stowe: A Spiritual Life

Harriet Beecher Stowe: A Spiritual Life

Paperback Library of Religious Biography

By (author) Nancy Koester

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  • Publisher: William B Eerdmans Publishing Co
  • Format: Paperback | 384 pages
  • Dimensions: 152mm x 226mm x 30mm | 499g
  • Publication date: 24 February 2014
  • Publication City/Country: Grand Rapids
  • ISBN 10: 0802833047
  • ISBN 13: 9780802833044
  • Sales rank: 1,055,197

Product description

So you're the little woman who started this big war, Abraham Lincoln is said to have quipped when he met Harriet Beecher Stowe. Her 1852 novel Uncle Tom's Cabin converted readers by the thousands to the anti-slavery movement and served notice that slavery's days were numbered. Overnight Stowe became a celebrity, but to defenders of slavery she was the devil in petticoats.Most writing about Stowe treats her as a literary figure and social reformer while underplaying her Christian faith. But Nancy Koester's biography treats Stowe's faith as central to her life -- both her public fight against slavery and her own struggle through deep personal grief to find a gracious God.

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Author information

Nancy Koester teaches religion at Augsburg College in Minneapolis. An ordained Lutheran minister, she has also written Fortress Introduction to the History of Christianity in the United States and Journeying through Lent with Luke.

Review quote

"Booklist" (STARRED review) The subject of this accessible and absorbing interpretive biography was perhaps the most famous American woman of the nineteenth century. . . . Koester engagingly and intelligently discusses each major novel, each family crisis, each journey, and each spiritual change, including a fluctuating interest in spiritualism after the deaths of two of her sons, without a whiff of academic fustiness. A top-notch read. "Choice" (American Library Association) This biography by Koester provides a well-versed, comprehensive account of the life of Harriet Beecher Stowe. . . . Koester balances Stowe's literary and social work alongside concise reflections on her religious and spiritual changes. . . . Recommended. "Congregational Libraries Today" A fascinating biography of the abolitionist and author of Uncle Tom's Cabin. . . . Koester presents all the facts of Stowe's life in a volume that is scholarly and extremely well annotated, yet written in a lively style. "Presbyterian Outlook" Nancy Koester's superb biography portrays Stowe in all her varying colors, from the fiery hues of the abolitionist reformer to the soft pastels of the fully engaged mother and wife. "Christian Century" Koester has accessibly translated an exemplary 19th-century life for a 21st-century audience. Her Stowe is a women to be admired and emulated but who also is recognizable to today's readers in her struggles to find a balance between her work and her spiritual life. "Fides et Historia" One of the strengths of this biography is Koester's adeptness at conveying the experiences and emotions that shaped Stowe's devotional life and faith-informed activism. . . . Koester's writing is accessible and she encourages the reader to identify with her subject. Her sympathetic portrayal of Stowe's inner life dares the reader to ask how they would confront the same questions she faced. This quality makes the book a helpful introduction to the time period or a good springboard for undergraduate class discussions. -- James M. McPhersonPulitzer Prize winner for Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era"The daughter, sister, and wife of prominent clergymen and theologians, Harriet Beecher Stowe outshone them all in her impact on American religion and reform. Her life and work were framed by a spiritual quest that led from her ancestral Calvinism to high-church Episcopalianism and even spiritualism. Nancy Koester's lucid narrative and penetrating analysis carry the reader along unfailingly on this fascinating quest."-- Debby ApplegatePulitzer Prize winner for The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher"It is impossible to overestimate the importance of Harriet Beecher Stowe, who was in her lifetime the most famous and influential woman in the United States, bar none. But she has been largely forgotten today. Nancy Koester's comprehensive biography brings Stowe's personal story to life for a new generation while re-creating the fierce religious and cultural battles that inspired her to write the Great American Novel that helped turn the course of American history."