The Beecher Sisters

Barbara A. White

View Inside Price: $39.00


March 4, 2014
416 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
17 plates
ISBN: 9780300208924
Paper

Also Available in:
Cloth
e-book

A joint biography of three extraordinary sisters and the tumultuous century that they helped to shape

The Beecher sisters—Catharine, Harriet, and Isabella—were three of the most prominent women in nineteenth-century America. Daughters of the famous evangelist Lyman Beecher, they could not follow their father and seven brothers into the ministry. Nonetheless, they carved out pathbreaking careers for themselves. Catharine Beecher founded the Hartford Female Seminary and devoted her life to improving women’s education. Harriet Beecher Stowe became world famous as the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Isabella Beecher Hooker was an outspoken advocate for women’s rights. This engrossing book is a joint biography of the sisters, whose lives spanned the full course of the nineteenth century. The life of Isabella Beecher—who has never been the subject of a biography—is examined in particular detail here. Drawing on little used sources, Barbara White explores Isabella’s political development and her interactions with her sisters and with prominent people of the time—from Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton to Mark Twain.

Barbara A. White is professor emeritus of women’s studies at the University of New Hampshire.

"A judicious and deeply informed work that makes a distinct contribution to the Beecher scholarship."—Joanne Feit Diehl, University of California, Davis

"This monumental book significantly expands our knowledge and understanding of the social history of women, and it does so in an engaging manner that will appeal to both the scholar and the general reader."—Josephine Donovan, Professor Emerita, University of Maine, author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin: Evil, Affliction, and Redemptive Love

"An important and densely researched analysis. . . . White compellingly illuminates [the Beecher Sisters'] decisive contributions. . . . This book contributes greatly to understanding momentous changes in patterns of United States gender, religion, politics, and reform across the nineteenth century, particularly in the Gilded Age.  The book will interest scholars of sexuality andreproduction as well as those engaged with the history of abolitionism, woman suffrage, and spiritualism."—Judith A. Allen, American Historical Review

“The book provides an insightful glimpse into family, social, political, and cultural issues of the era. White is meticulous in her research. . . . White’s superb book will be well received by those in women’s studies and family, social, and cultural history. Highly recommended.”—Choice

“The first book devoted exclusively to Catharine, Harriet and Isabella, the three daughters who turned the family predilection for preaching into the didacticism of protest literature, education for women and universal suffrage. . . . A model of academic research—richly organized, scrupulously intelligent and offering a wealth of information.”—Vivian Gornick, Los Angeles Times Book Review

“Thank you, Barbara White, for this engrossing biography on the compelling lives of three trailblazing sisters. . . . [White] will please both non-academic and scholarly readers.”—Elizabethe Plante, Portsmouth Herald


"White . . . brings to life the details and the ethos of an era; this volume provides not only a rich, varied, sensitive account of the sisters’ lives, but a compelling overview of the many groundbreaking acts performed by intelligent, steadfast women during the 19th century."—Publishers Weekly

"An excellent biography. . . . White shows how the lives of the women intertwined in both the public and the private spheres.  The book illustrates the role of strong women in the development of a political family. . . . A fascinating portrait of a circle of remarkable women."—A. Cheree Carlson, Journal of American History

"This collective biography of Catharine, Harriet, and Isabella does fine justice to these prominent women."—R. Bryan Bademan, Religious Studies Review