“There is No Arguing with Pictures”: The Aiken/Howard Uncle Tom’s Cabin

  • John W. Frick
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Theatre and Performance History book series (PSTPH)


Like the novel before it and the serialized version before that, the theatricalization of Uncle Tom’s Cabin attracted immediate and intense attention. Tom’s arrival in New York, America’s undisputed theatre center at mid-century, was announced on September 3, 1852 in a brief, unsigned article in James Gordon Bennett’s New York Herald that announced simply that “Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel of Uncle Tom’s Cabin has been dramatized at the National Theatre, and, being something of a novelty, it draws crowds nightly.”1 The article continued to note that, since the novel was, in the Fall of 1852, the current “literary wonder” and had sold by the “thousands, and tens, and hundreds of thousands,” it was only natural that it should be transferred to the stage. The tone of the article indicated that the novel’s transformation to the stage was hardly a surprise; rather, there was a sense of inevitability about it.


Theatre Manager Slave Owner National Theatre Cast Member Street Theatre 
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© John W. Frick 2012

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  • John W. Frick

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