Martineau, Harriet

BORN 12 Jun 1802, Norwich, Norfolk - DIED 27 Jun 1876, Ambleside, Cumbria: The Knoll
GRAVE LOCATION Birmingham, West Midlands: Key Hill Cemetery, Icknield Street, Hockley (plot 790/I)

Harriet Martineau descended from Huguenot refugees. She escaped from marriage after her fiancee John Hugh Worthington suffered a nervous breakdown and afterwards she had no other relationships and dedicated herself to her work.

She worked as a feminist journalist and wrote over 1500 columns and many essays, novels and stories for children. She undertook methodological studies in the field of what is now known as sociology.

In 1834 she paid a long visit to the United States, where she visited the former president James Madison at Montpelier. Like her friend Fanny Kemble, who also lived in the United States af that time, she supported abolitionism and this caused controversy. Back in England she enjoyed the company of Charles Darwin in 1836 after he had returned from his voyage with The Beagle. Darwin stayed with his brother Erasmus who was acquainted with Harriet.

Queen Victoria liked her publications and invited her to her coronation in 1838. Harriet described the event in great detail for her readers.

She had lived in London, but later in years she moved to the Lake District where she built a house in Ambleside that she called The Knoll and where she lived from 1855 onwards. In 1855 she suffered from a heart disease and because she expected to die soon, she wrote an autobiography in three months time. Publication was postponed until after her death.

She lived almost another twenty years before she died at The Knoll in 1876. She was buried in the grave of her brother Robert Martineau in Birmingham. Her autobiography was published posthomously in 1877.

Related persons
• met Brontė, Charlotte
• was a friend of Kemble, Fanny
• was a friend of Malthus, Thomas Robert
• is brother/sister of Martineau, Robert


The grave of Harriet and Robert Martineau at Key Hill Cemetery, Birmingham.
Picture by Androom (11 Aug 2011)


The grave of Harriet and Robert Martineau at Key Hill Cemetery, Birmingham.
Picture by Androom (11 Aug 2011)


Martineau, Robert

Published: 09 Oct 2011
Last update: 26 Apr 2024