Harriet Martineau's life is the story of adversity overcome. Armed with an excellent childhood education, she had to overcome deafness, the loss of her senses of smell and taste, extensive nervous disorder, and finally heart disease.
Her father died when she was in her early 20s, leaving the family destitute, and Martineau had to work for pennies by hack writing and doing needlework. With the publication in 1832-1834 of a series of short stories interpreting political economy for the layman, she gained a wide reading public. Her work in magazines and pamphlets, as well as her books, began to bring very adequate, if not rich, returns, and she quickly became one of the literary lions of London. England in the 1830s was a world in which politicians courted popular writers for political support, and Harriet Martineau became one of the most courted.
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- Brother: Dr Thomas Martineau (1795-1824)
- Brother: Henry Martineau (1797-1844)
- Brother: Robert Martineau (1798-1870)
- Sister: Rachel Ann Martineau (1800-1878)
- Self: Harriet Martineau (1802-1876)
- Brother: Dr James Martineau (1805-1900)
- Sister: Ellen Martineau (1811-1889)
and Elizabeth, a great-great-great-great-great-grandmother of Kate Middleton