Harriet Martineau (1802 – 1876)
Harriet Martineau was a Victorian sociologist, writer and social reformer. She was born in Norwich to wealthy parents of French Huguenot descent. Her father Thomas Martineau was the owner of a textile mill; her mother Elizabeth Rankin was the daughter of a sugar refiner. They believed in equality for all of their eight children.
Harriet was one of the first female journalists, championing important social reform and women’s rights. She wrote over 50 books in her lifetime, becoming very wealthy in the meantime, but had become a novelist to make a living. In her time she was renowned and celebrated for her clear style and the way in which her ideals and opinions were shown through the form of narrative in her stories. She argued vociferously against slavery and inequality.
For most of her life Harriet was deaf but travelled widely and leaves a vast legacy of intellectual analysis which has inspired modern sociologists.