Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Martineau, Harriet

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MARTINEAU, Harriet, English author, b. in Norwich, England, 12 June, 1802; d. in Ambleside, 27 June, 1876. She was descended from a family of French Huguenots that settled in Norwich on the revocation of the edict of Nantes. Her father was a manufacturer and died early, leaving eight children unprovided for. Harriet received a good education under the supervision of her uncle, an eminent surgeon, but was compelled to earn her own livelihood. Being afflicted, when still young, with a constantly increasing deafness and a total lack of the sense of smell, she found her chief amusement in literary composition, and ultimately decided to depend upon her pen for support. In 1834-'6 she travelled extensively in the United States, and on her return recorded her impressions of American life and institutions in a work entitled “Society in America” (3 vols., London, 1837). She also published “Retrospect of Western Travel” (3 vols., 1838), which gave more of her personal experiences. Her health became so seriously affected in 1839 that she was long obliged to desist from all literary occupation. On recovering, through the agency, as she believed, of animal magnetism, she published in 1844 an account of the treatment in a letter which excited much attention. In 1852 Miss Martineau formed a connection with the London “Daily News,” to which she contributed leading articles and biographical and other papers. At her death she left in the office of the above-mentioned journal an “Autobiography,” written in 1855, which was published posthumously (London, 1877; Boston, 1877). Miss Martineau's writings are very numerous and include travels, works on history, political economy, and philosophy, and stories for children. Besides those already mentioned, she published two books referring to the United States, “The Martyr Age” (New York, 1839) and “History of the American Compromises” (1856).