23. With sales of more than 1.5 million copies within the first year of its publication in England, what runaway bestseller of the 1800s was based on the real life experiences of an immigrant to Ontario?
Answer to Canada Quiz #23
Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
Harriet Beecher Stowe’s classic novel, first published in 1852, was based in part on the slave narrative, The Life of Josiah Henson, Formerly a Slave, Now an Inhabitant of Canada, as Narrated by Himself. The biography describes Josiah Henson’s flight from slavery in Maryland and Kentucky, and his travels via the Underground Railroad to freedom in Fort Erie, Upper Canada, or modern-day Ontario.
Uncle Tom’s Cabin sold 300,000 copies in the U.S. during its first year of publication, and an astounding 1.5 million copies in the first year after its Great Britain release. It was the second-most popular book of the 19th century, being out-sold only by the Bible. It was truly a runaway bestseller.
- Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Wikipedia
- The Life of Josiah Henson, Formerly a Slave, Now an Inhabitant of Canada, as Narrated by Himself, Google Books
- Aspects of the Publishing History of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, 1851-1900, Vassar College Libraries
- Josiah Henson: The Real Uncle Tom, Day of Discovery