The versatile Harriet Martineau launched her long career during the Romantic era through literary criticism. She was born to a family of emotionally austere but intellectually and politically progressive Norwich religious dissenters who believed in rigorous education for both boys and girls. Martineau received a solid home education, and enrolled for a time in a local grammar school primarily for boys. She was an early and avid reader of a broad range of literature as well as more “unfeminine” subjects such as philosophy, theology, social theory, and political economy. While visiting an aunt in Bristol, Martineau came under the influence of philosopher and Unitarian minister Lant Carpenter (1780–1840), who encouraged her intellectual growth. Martineau’s physical health, however, was weak, and before she reached age twenty, illness had left her virtually deaf.
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- Harriet Martineau (1802–1876)
Mary A. Waters
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