HARRIET BEECHER STOWE - AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED 05/24/1856 - HFSID 49181
Sale Price $2,762.50
HARRIET BEECHER STOWE
She signs a detailed autograph letter to an English couple, enthusiastically endorsing the talent for dramatic reading of Mary Webb, daughter of a fugitive slave, for whom Stowe has written a special dramatized reading of Uncle Tom. Framed in the Gallery of History style to 41x21
Autograph Letter Signed: "With truest regard I remain/Ever Yours/H B Stowe", 2¼ pages, 7x8¾ and 6x7¾, separate sheets. Boston, 1856 May 24. To Mr. & Mrs. Wilman, London. Begins: "Dear Friends". In full: "Permit me to introduce to your kind regards Mr & Mrs. Webb in whose welfare and success I am greatly interested. Mrs Webb is the Daughter of a fugitive slave and had her freedom secured by a heroic effort: on the part of her mother: a short time previous to her birth. She was born in New Bedford, New England and was subsequently sent to Cuba where she passed the earlier years of her life in a convent. Having been endowed with an extraordinary genius for Elocution She has adopted the profession of a Dramatic Reader. And she has already aquired (sic) considerable reputation Her success is attested by hundreds of notices written by some of the most competent critics in this country Indeed her success has been such as to induce even Pro-Slavery Lyceums to avail themselves of her services in their causes Her reading of Uncle Tom:' which I have dramatised (sic) expressly for her has been considered unequaled. Longfellow also has expressed himself much gratified with her rendering of Hiawatha with regard to which he has made her some valuable suggestions The reading season being over in this country she has been induced to try her success in England. I am induced to recommend her to your notice because she has made the tragedy of Fasio an Especial study & her rendering of it has been highly spoken of by persons better qualified to judge than I am, It has less of stage effect than common but much of delicate tact tenderness & pathos & I think it could not but give you pleasure to hear it Permit me to say in closing with how much pleasure I remember the short time in which it was my good fortune to enjoy your society, during my London sojourn." On verso of signature sheet: "To be copied/Mr & Mrs Wilman/London". Author and abolitionist HARRIET BEECHER STOWE (1811-1896) is best known for Uncle Tom's Cabin, or Life Among the Lowly, which was serialized in the abolitionist newspaper "National Era" (June 5, 1851-April 1, 1852) before being published in book form in March 1852. Stowe, who made her first European tour in 1853, followed the work, which helped to solidify Northern sentiment against slavery, with Dred: A Tale of the Great Dismal Swamp in 1856, the year of this letter (she made a second visit to England to obtain a British copyright for this book). Stowe had made the acquaintance of MARY E. WEBB (1829-1859), who had made her public debut as a speaker in Philadelphia on April 19, 1855, in May 1855 at a reading in Massachusetts. During the summer of 1855, she became Webb's patron, writing The Christian Slave: A Drama, based on a portion of Uncle Tom's Cabin, for Webb to read. The recital, which took place on December 6, 1855 in Boston's Tremont Temple, was attended by poet HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW (1807-1882), whose 1855 poem, "Hiawatha", was recited by Webb in performances in 1856. Shortly after receiving Stowe's letter of recommendation, Mary and her husband, FRANK JOHNSON WEBB, whom she had married in 1845, traveled to Great Britain, where Stowe's friend, The Duchess of Sutherland, became Mary's patron. Mary, who gave her first reading in Britain at the home of the Duchess, London's Stafford House on July 28, 1856, was visited by Stowe's sister, Mary Beecher Perkins, the following year. When her health began to decline, Webb traveled to France before returning to the U.S. in 1858. One of the few Black women to attain international fame before the U.S. Civil War, Mary died in Jamaica in 1859. Lightly creased, vertical creases touch the "H" and "B" of signature. Light stain at upper margin of signature sheet touches 1 word. Overall, fine condition. Framed in the Gallery of History style: 41¼x20½.
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