Harriet Martineau

By: Brycelin Spidel


Harriet Martineau was one of the first female sociologists, born on June 12, 1802 in England and died June 27, 1876. She wrote many books and essays from a feminist perspective. Her writings also included sociological, religious, holistic, and domestic issues. Many of Harriet's work on domesticity stems from her strained relationship with her mother. Her mother strictly enforced proper feminine behavior, never allowing her daughters to be in public with a pen in their hand. Harriet was closet to her brother James and they worked together on writing many political economic series. Despite losing her sense of taste, smell, partial hearing, and other adversity, Harriet Martineau still became one of the most successful sociologists even as a woman.

10 Facts About Harriet Martineau

  • Harriet Martineau strongly voiced her opinions on political, economic, and social issues, despite what was considered socially acceptable for women.
  • She was active in women's rights, the fight against slavery, and religious tolerance.
  • She emphasized the importance of studying political, religious, and social institutions to understand the existence of inequality.
  • She observed social practices and their effects on society.
  • She also examined how social class, religion, suicide affected social problems and individuals.
  • In 1834 she traveled to the USA to meet James Madison and also met up with other abolitionists to study emerging girls' education.
  • In 1839 She was diagnosed with uterine cancer causing her to enact the social constraints of a woman.
  • Her illness caused her to fear the compromise of her political independence
  • In 1853 Martineau began to translate August Comte's work from French to English so other English scholars could learn his work.
  • Before Harriet Martineau died in 1876, she publshied over 50 books and 2,000 scholarly articles expressing her feminist views.