London: John Cassell, 1852. Item #04117
Uncle Tom's Cabin Illustrated by George Cruikshank
In The Original Thirteen Parts
CRUIKSHANK, George, illustrator. STOWE, Harriet Beecher. Uncle Tom's Cabin. With Twenty-Seven illustrations on Wood by George Cruikshank, Esq. London: John Cassell, 1852.
First London and first Cruikshank illustrated edition in the original thirteen weekly parts.
Octavo (8 x 5 1/4 inches; 203 x 134 mm.). xxiii, [1, blank], 391, [1, advertisements] pp. Portrait frontispiece and vignette title-page engraved on wood. Twenty-seven inserted wood engraved plates. Bound without the two page Cassell's publication advertisement at end of part 6.
Publisher's buff printed wrappers. A few spines with expert and almost invisible restoration, otherwise near fine. Chemised in a quarter green morocco slip case. The finest example that we have seen in over fifty years.
Scarce, with only a handful of copies in parts appearing at auction over the past forty-five years - all apparently lacking the same 2 page advertisement at the end of part 6.
Uncle Tom's Cabin; or, Life Among the Lowly, is an anti-slavery novel by American author Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896). Published in 1852, the novel "helped lay the groundwork for the Civil War", according to Will Kaufman in his book The Civil War in American Culture. Uncle Tom's Cabin had first appeared as a 40-week serial in an American newspaper, The National Era, an abolitionist periodical, starting with the June 5, 1851, issue. It was originally intended a a shorter narrative that would run for only a few weeks. Stowe expanded the story significantly, however, and it was instantly popular, such that several protests were sent to the Era office when she missed an issue. Because of the story's popularity, the publisher John p. Jewett contacted Stowe about turning the serial into a book. While Stowe questioned if anyone would read Uncle Tom's Cabin in book form, she eventually consented to the request. Convinced the book would be popular, Jewett made the unusual decision (for that time) to have six full-page illustrations by Hammatt Billings engraved for the first printing. Published in book form on March 20, 1852, the novel sold 3,000 copies on that day alone, and soon sold out its complete print run. In the first year of publication, 300,000 copies of Uncle Tom's Cabin were sold. At that point, however, "demand came to an unexpected halt... No more copies were produced for many years, and if, as is claimed, Abraham Lincoln greeted Stowe in 1862 as 'the little woman who wrote the book that made this great war,' the work had effectively been out of print for many years." Jewett went out of business, and it was not until Ticknor and Fields put the work back in print in November 1862 that demand began again to increase.
The book was translated into all major languages, and in the United States it became the second best-selling book after the Bible. A number of the early editions carried an introduction by Rev James Sherman, a Congregational minister in London noted for his abolitionist views. Uncle Tom's Cabin sold equally well in Britain, with the first London edition appearing in May 1852 and selling 200,000 copies. In a few years over 1.5 million copies of the book were in circulation in Britain, although most of these were infringing copies (a similar situation occurred in the United States).
"In the emotion-charged atmosphere of mid-nineteenth century America Uncle Tom's Cabin exploded like a bombshell. To those engaged in fighting slavery it appeared as an indictment of all the evils inherent in the system they opposed; to pro-slavery forces it was a slanderous attack on 'the Southern way of life'. Dramatized versions, exaggerating the cruelties depicted in the novel, appeared almost immediately on the stage adding to the righteous indignation, whether aimed at slavery or at the book's author, which swept the country. Whatever its weakness as a literary work - structural looseness and excess of sentiment among them - the social impact of Uncle Tom's Cabin on the United States was greater than that of any book before or since" (Printing and the Mind of Man, 332).