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Birth of Harriet Martineau

Posted in Anniversary, Literature on Wednesday, 1 June 2011

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12 June marks the anniversary of the birth of social theorist and author Harriet Martineau in 1802.

picture, Harriet Martineau, cat

Miss Harriet Martineau, political economist and author. Illustration by Daniel Maclise

Born in Norwich, Martineau was a sickly child and profoundly deaf. She was sent to stay with her aunt in Bristol where she met Unitarian minister Dr Lant Carpenter and began writing for the Unitarian periodical Monthly Repository. Her first book, Devotional Exercises and Addresses, Prayers and Hymns appeared in 1823.

She became interested in political economy and published a great many books on the subject. A trip to the United States helped develop her support for abolitionism, which made her unpopular in America. She remained a prolific writer throughout her life and penned two volumes of autobiography and the three-volume novel Deerbrook.

She died on 27 June 1876, aged 74.

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