Search the Collection

Harriet Martineau (1802-1876), Social philosopher and writer; sister of James Martineau

Sitter in 8 portraits
Martineau had a difficult childhood, dogged by poverty and ill health, she became deaf at a young age and had to use an ear trumpet. To earn money for her family she sent out articles, stories and poems to magazines, with some of her pieces bringing financial success. Her trip to America in 1834 arose from her abhorrence of slavery. She travelled around the south unharmed, but met hostility further north and had to abandon her visit in 1835, writing Society in America (1837) to describe her experiences. She also wrote How to Observe Morals and Manners (1838) to advise other would-be travellers. Back home she was ridiculed for her growing interest in mesmerism (hypnosis).