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Guide to the Harriet Martineau Papers, 1800-1994 (bulk 1821-1875)
BANC MSS 92/754 z  
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Collection Details
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  • Collection Summary
  • Information for Researchers
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Chronology
  • Scope and Content

  • Collection Summary

    Collection Title: Harriet Martineau Papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1800-1994
    Date (bulk): (bulk 1821-1875)
    Collection Number: BANC MSS 92/754 z
    Creator: Martineau, Harriet, 1802-1876
    Extent: Number of containers: 12 boxes, 2 card file boxes, 1 carton Linear feet: ca. 8
    Repository: The Bancroft Library
    Berkeley, California 94720-6000
    Physical Location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
    Abstract: Chiefly correspondence (ca. 775 pieces), but includes a few manuscripts of Martineau's writings, photographs, and calling cards. Also contains correspondence of James Martineau, as well as other Martineau family and friends. Reinhard S. Speck's notes and correspondence regarding his collecting of Harriet Martineau books and manuscripts are also included, along with his indices to the collection.
    Languages Represented: English

    Information for Researchers


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to The Bancroft Library. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services. Permission for publication is given on behalf of The Bancroft Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Harriet Martineau Papers, BANC MSS 92/754 z, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

    Related Collection

    • Title: Harriet Martineau Letters, 1832-1850,
      Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS 90/60 z

    Materials Cataloged Separately

    • Printed materials have been transferred to the book collection of The Bancroft Library.
    • Selected photographs have been transferred to Pictorial Collections of The Bancroft Library, classified as
      Identifier/Call Number: BANC PIC 1992.067--AX.

    Administrative Information

    Acquisition Information

    The Harriet Martineau Papers were given to The Bancroft Library by Reinhard S. Speck on December 17, 1991.

    Biographical Chronology

    1802 Birth of Harriet Martineau in Norwich, Norfolk, 12 June.
    1805 Her brother James is born.
    1809 First reads Milton.
    1813-14 With her sister Rachel, attends the Reverend Isaac Perry's School, Norwich. Early signs of deafness.
    1818-19 Spends fifteen months at a school for girls in Bristol run by her aunt, Mrs. Robert Rankin.
    1820 Ear trumpet needed.
    1822 Publication of first article in the Unitarian Monthly Repository: Female Writers on Practical Divinity.
    1824 Death of her eldest brother, Thomas, who had encouraged her writing.
    1825-6 National economic crisis, damaging the Martineau manufacturing business.
    1826 Death of Harriet's father, Thomas Martineau. Harriet engaged to her brother James's college friend, John Hugh Worthington, who becomes suddenly ill and then insane.
    1827 Worthington dies. Harriet discovers political economy, and writes tales such as The Rioters and Principle and Practice.
    1829 Final collapse of the family business. William Johnson Fox pays her 15 pounds a year for regular contributions to the Monthly Repository.
    1830-1 Wins all three prizes in an essay competition run by the British and Foreign Unitarian Association to present Unitarianism to Catholics, Jews, and Mohammedans.
    1831 Visits James in Dublin, and plans her Illustrations of Political Economy. Exhaustive hunt for publishers in London.
    1832 Publication by Charles Fox of the first of her Illustrations, Life in the Wilds (February). Instant success. Moves to London. Illustrations appear monthly until 1834. Martineau is lionized.
    1833-4 Poor Laws and Paupers Illustrated (4 parts), commissioned by the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge.
    1834 Illustrations of Taxation.
    1834-6 Departs for America in August 1834 with travelling companion, Louisa Jeffrey. Travels widely; meets key abolitionists.
    1836-9 Returns to London. Publishes her observations in Society in America and a more personal version of her visit, Retrospect of Western Travel.
    1839 Publishes a novel, Deerbrook. Visits Europe and falls ill in Italy. Brought home by her brother, James.
    1840-4 Ill at Tynemouth, suffering from a prolapsed uterus and polypous tumor. Convinced she is about to die, but continues writing: The Hour and the Man (1841), The Playfellow (1841), and Life in the Sick-Room (1844). Mesmerized for the first time on 22 June 1844.
    1845 Believes she has been cured by mesmerism (hypnotism). Publishes Letters on Mesmerism in the Athenaeum and Dawn Island, an anti-Corn Law tale. Asks friends to destroy her letters. Meets Henry George Atkinson.
    1845-46 Purchases lot in Ambleside, plans and builds her home, The Knoll. Writes Forest and Game Law Tales.
    1846-7 Travels to Egypt and the Holy Land with Mr. and Mrs. Richard Vaughan Yates, a Unitarian philanthropist, and Joseph Ewart of Liverpool.
    1848 Publishes Eastern Life, Present and Past. Death of her mother at age 76. Begins lectures to Ambleside working class, and organizes a building society for them.
    1849 The History of England during the Thirty Years' Peace and Household Education published.
    1850 Invited by Dickens to contribute Household Words. Visit from Charlotte Brontë.
    1851 Publishes Letters on the Laws of Man's Nature and Development, with Henry G. Atkinson. Her agnosticism becomes a public issue. Breaks with her brother James over his hostile review, Mesmeric Atheism, in the Prospective Review.
    1852 Visit from Mary Ann Evans [George Eliot]. Begins writing articles for the Daily News.
    1853 Translates and condenses Comte's Positive Philosophy.
    1855 Publishes her Complete Guide to the English Lakes. Feeling unwell again, goes to London for medical consultation. Convinced this is a different illness from her earlier one, and she has an enlarged heart. Expects imminent death. Writes her Autobiography, but does not publish it. The Factory Controversy: A Warning Against Meddling Legislation.
    1857 British Rule in India.
    1858 Contributes articles to the Edinburgh Review (until 1868). Suggestions Towards the Future Government of India.
    1859 Writes articles for Once A Week (until 1865).
    1861 Health, Husbandry, and Handicraft.
    1866 Stops contributing to the Daily News. Signs petition on women's suffrage presented to Parliament.
    1869 Campaigns against the extension of the Contagious Diseases Act, which was finally amended in 1871. Biographical Sketches.
    1876 Death of Harriet Martineau in Ambleside, 27 June.
    1877 Publication of her Autobiography, with Memorials by Maria Weston Chapman.

    Scope and Content

    The Harriet Martineau Papers, 1800-1994, form part of the collection assembled by Reinhard S. Speck. Begun in 1952, his collection includes first and rare editions of the author's works and manuscripts of her writings, as well as approximately 775 pieces of correspondence between Harriet Martineau, her brother James, their family, and circle with various literary, political, religious, and social figures, chiefly from 1821-1875.
    The correspondence includes a large group of letters from Harriet Martineau to her editor and mentor, William Johnson Fox, as well as correspondence between members of the Rev. Richard Tagart family and the Martineau family, ca. 1830-1900. Although Martineau always insisted that correspondents destroy her letters written to them, several, including Fox and her brother, James Martineau, disregarded her wishes.
    Born to manufacturing family in Norwich, England, Martineau was a versatile writer with a wide range of interests. As a philosopher and economist, she was at the heart of the Victorian literary and social life. By the age of twenty, Martineau was already a published journalist, and at twenty-six, she began making regular contributions to William J. Fox's The Monthly Repository. Her books and novels were often devoted to the improvement of the working classes and she held passionate political and philosophical views about women's rights, religious freedom, and the abolition of slavery. Harriet Martineau manuscripts included in the collection are: Hymn from "The Charmed Sea;" advance proof sheets, corrected by Martineau, for Deer Brook: A Novel; a holograph manuscript of The Hamlet: A Tale; and Addresses with Prayers and Original Hymns.
    Also included with the Harriet Martineau Papers are Dr. Speck's records regarding his collection, including correspondence, notes on the collection, and a card index listing details of acquisition and an impressive group of additional correspondents.
    The collection has been arranged in six series: Harriet Martineau Correspondence; James Martineau Correspondence; Correspondence of Other Martineau Family and Friends; Writings of Harriet Martineau; Miscellaneous Martineau Family Papers; and, Papers of Reinhard S. Speck. Arrangement, where appropriate within each series, is chiefly alphabetical, and then chronological.