Harriet Martineau

By: Karly Atkinson


Harriet was born in 1802 to a family of 8 children with parents who were upper-middle class. She had a miserable childhood due to her lack of senses, being deaf later on, and having no smell or taste. From early on though, Harriet said she liked to observe the growth of a human mind from the beginning to the end which she did with her younger sister. Most of her education was self-educating at home because women did not go to universities at the time. She was introduced to professional writers for the first time when she moved with her aunt and uncle at the age of 15. By 1829, she decided to commit herself to writing.

"I have no vote at elections, though I am a tax-paying housekeeper and responsible citizen; and I regard the disability as an absurdity, seeing that I have for a long course of years influenced public affairs to an extent not professed or attempted by many men."

10 facts

  1. First woman sociologist
  2. Known as "founding mother" for her research about sociology and her feministic view points on sociology.
  3. During her research, she read Auguste Comte's book, Comte's Positive Philosophy, and translated it from French to English.
  4. She concluded that the most important law of social life is human happiness. To take this further on, she studied a lot of things to observe how humans developed morals and manners.
  5. She made three ways to study progress, which was the condition of less powerful groups in society, cultural attitudes towards higher authority, and the extent that individuals realized self-governing or individual moral actions.
  6. Kept her writings open to the public.
  7. Unlike most male sociologists at the time, she was very concerned with social inequality, racial inequality, and gender inequality.
  8. She studied the moral condition of America, and focused on marriage patterns and slavery. She studied even further on the lives of the poor and the wages of women in America.
  9. She did not live in America, but she took a two year trip to study Americans. The results had many inconsistencies and she was confused about women's rights and how the United States say that "all are created equal" but women had barely any rights and their futures were marriage and child birth.
  10. She supported the Married Women's Property Bill, the licensing of prostitution and legal regulation of customers, and women's suffrage movements. Basically, Harriet supported many acts to allow women to have equal rights as men and to be equal in society.