Fenno Editions

The images in this R. F. Fenno & Company edition illustrate two stories: the novel Stowe wrote in 1851-52, and the show that novel became in the decades after the Civil War. The first two of its twelve full-page illustrations are paintings by James H. Lowell, but the other ten are photographs by Byron of actors from William A. Brady's "Uncle Tom's Cabin Company." Brady's was one of the dozens of troupes that dramatized Stowe's story for audiences across the country, and these photos give us a good look at the book's characters as theatrical types, and even (in three of the pictures) of the kind of sets the "Tom Shows" carried from town to town. The "Tommers" (as the players in "Tom Shows" were called) are unidentified, but I'd say both "Tom" and "Topsy" are being played by whites in blackface -- as was the case for almost all theatrical re-presentations of the novel. You can see these illustrations by clicking on any of the icons at left.
Uncle Tom's Cabin; or, Life Among the Lowly. Embellished with Scenes and Illustrations. New York: R. F. Fenno & Company, 1904.
Courtesy of Special Collections Department, University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Iowa
Fenno & Company can also help us appreciate another story: how many different versions of Stowe's novel were published after the novel's copyright expired. In his research into the work of noted 19th century illustrator William E. B. Starkweather, who drew the cover at left, top, Peter Falotico has discovered two other 1904 Fenno editions featuring covers by the artist. You can see them, along with a titlepage displaying another Starkweather drawing, at the bottom, left. It is safe to say that no archive will ever contain all the ways in which Uncle Tom Cabin was printed or illustrated.