Born: June 14, 1811, Litch­field, Con­nec­ti­cut.

Died: Ju­ly 1, 1896, Hart­ford, Con­nec­ti­cut.

Buried: Phill­ips Aca­de­my Ce­me­te­ry, An­do­ver, Mas­sa­chu­setts.



Harriet was the daugh­ter of Con­gre­ga­tion­al min­is­ter Ly­man Beech­er and Rox­an­na Foote, sis­ter of Hen­ry Ward Beech­er, and wife of Cal­vin El­lis Stowe, a pro­fess­or at Lane The­o­lo­gic­al Se­mi­na­ry (mar­ried 1836). Her mo­ther died when she was four years old.

At age 13, Stowe be­gan at­tend­ing a girls’ school in Hart­ford, Con­nec­ti­cut. In 1832, her fa­mi­ly moved to Cin­cin­na­ti, Ohio, where her fa­ther be­came head of Lane The­o­lo­gic­al Se­mi­na­ry.

In 1850, she be­came a pro­fess­or at Bow­doin Col­lege, Bruns­wick, Maine.


Stowe wrote do­zens of books, in­clud­ing Un­cle Tom’s Ca­bin, an anti-slav­ery no­vel pub­lished in 1852. Most of her hymns appeared in her bro­ther Hen­ry’s 1855 Ply­mouth Col­lec­tion.



Knocking, knocking, ever knocking?
Who is there?
’Tis a pilgrim, strange and kingly,
Never such was seen before—
Ah, sweet soul, for such a wonder
Undo the door.

No—that door is hard to open;
Hinges rusty, latch is broken;
Bid Him go.
Wherefore, with that knocking dreary
Scare the sleep from one so weary?
Say Him—no.

Knocking, knocking, ever knocking?
What! still there?
O, sweet soul, but once behold Him,
With the glory-crownèd hair;
And those eyes, so strange and tender,
Waiting there;
Open! Open! Once behold Him—
Him, so fair.

Ah, that door! Why wilt thou vex me,
Coming ever to perplex me?
For the key is stiffly rusty,
And the bolt is clogged and dusty;
Many-fingered ivy-vine
Seals it fast with twist and twine;
Weeds of years and years before
Choke the passage of that door.

Knocking! knocking! What! still knocking?
He still here?
What’s the hour? the night is waning—
In my heart a drear complaining,
And a chilly, sad unrest!
Ah, this knocking! It disturbs me,
Scares my sleep with dream unblest!
Give me rest, rest—ah, rest!

Rest, dear soul, He longs to give thee;
Thou hast only dreamed of pleasure,
Dreamed of gifts and golden treasure,
Dreamed of jewels in thy keeping,
Waked to weariness of weeping—
Open to thy soul’s one lover,
And thy night of dreams is over—
The true gifts He brings have seeming
More than all thy Faded dreaming!

Did she open? Doth she? Will she?
So, as wondering we behold,
Grows the picture to a sign,
Pressed upon your soul and mine;
For in every breast that liveth
Is that strange mysterious door—
Though forsaken and betangled,
Ivy-gnarled and weed-bejangled,
Dusty, rusty, and, and forgotten—
There the piercèd hand still knocketh,
And with ever patient watching,
With the sad eyes true and tender,
With the glory-crownèd hair,
Still a God is waiting there.

Harriet Beecher Stowe
Light Af­ter Dark­ness, 1867