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Martineau, Harriet (1802–76)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-DC052-2
Version: v2,  Published online: 2021
Retrieved July 23, 2024, from

Article Summary

Harriet Martineau (1802–76), recognised as one of the founders of sociology, was one of the most prolific professional female writers in the nineteenth century. Martineau wrote over 2,000 articles in her lifetime, published over a dozen books on a wide range of topics, and earned sufficient income from her work to support herself financially. Her Illustrations of Political Economy (1832), which sought to make the complex ideas of Adam Smith, Robert Malthus, David Ricardo, James Mill, and John Stuart Mill more accessible to popular audiences, was enormously successful. In her three-volume study Society in America (1837) Martineau affirmed her commitment to abolitionism and support for early women’s rights. How to Observe: Morals and Manners (1838) contained an extended exploration of her method of observation. Her novel Deerbrook (1839) explored the complex interrelationships between individuals, households, and communities. The Hour and the Man (1841), based on the life of Toussaint L’Ouverture, leader of the Haitian Revolution, further reinforced her abolitionist views. Martineau’s translation and abridgment of Auguste Comte’s six-volume work Positive Philosophy (1853) provided another opportunity to fine-tune her own methodology. Seen largely as a ‘populariser’ of ideas espoused by more prominent thinkers, Martineau is increasingly recognised for her own philosophical and theoretical contributions.

Citing this article:
Vetter, Lisa. Martineau, Harriet (1802–76), 2021, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-DC052-2. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
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