Nature, Magic, and History: Forging a National Identity in Stowe

Document Type


Publication Date


Journal / Book Title

Women's Writing


Harriet Beecher Stowe learns from Walter Scott how to raise local colour to the level of a personal history which becomes a national psychology. For both Scott and Stowe, the colourful and panoramic vision of a given people (Scottish, New England) depends upon individual yearnings and desires: the boundaries between national and personal, public and private, are forever shifting. Though they seem to promise a historical inquiry into a sheltered and idyllic landscape, the authors are finally interested in the history, or development, of the soul. In The Pearl of Orr's Island, Stowe shows her ability to make the psychological natural and the historical spiritual. From Scott, Stowe learns that in order to forge a national identity or history, she must first uncover the spiritual dimension of a people (as reflected in its Nature/nature) and then fathom the feminine principle as the arbiter between the natural and supernatural realms.

Journal ISSN / Book ISBN

0969-9082 1747-5848 (electronic)

Published Citation

Elbert, Monika. “Nature, Magic, and History: Forging a National Identity in Stowe.” Women’s Writing, vol. 12, no. 1, 2005, pp. 99–113.