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Title: Harriet Martineau's letters to Fanny Wedgwood, 1837-1871
Author: Arbuckle, E. M.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1978
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This dissertation attempts to provide a readable annotated edition of nearly one-hundred and twenty letters written by Harriet Martineau (1802-76), between 1837 and 1871. Written to sympathetic and trusted friends, the letters illuminate some of the more attractive aspects of Harriet Martineau's forceful personality, while they also provide a chronicle of her opinions, her reading and writing, and her unusual medical history, during most of her career as a respected radical journalist. The letters of Harriet Martineau also allow some insight into the lives of the rather retiring Wedgwood-Darwin clan, among whose distinguished family members and friends were Charles Darwin and Jane and Thomas Carlyle. The mutual friendship of the Carlyles, Wedgwoods, Erasmus Darwin and Harriet Martineau is the first interest in these letters, for Harriet Martineau recalls and repeats anecdotes about the Carlyles with entire freedom, as she continues to do about other contemporary figures. Among those whom she knew or with whom she corresponded, were Charlotte Bronte, George Eliot, Mrs. Gaskell, Matthew Arnold, Charles Dickens, Florence Nightingale, and politicians such as Richard Cobdon, Sir Robert Peel, Lord John Russell, Lord Brougham, SLR. Forster, and many others. She also kept up a correspondence with leaders of the radical abolitionists led by William Lloyd Garrison in the United States. Harriet Martineau and the Wedgwoods shared an allegiance to religious dissent and radical, middle-class dominated reform. Her faith in the middle classes and her strict adherence to the "laws" of political economy, however, did not prevent her support for various schemes to aid the working classes, which she recounts with infectious enthusiasm. In addition to their narrative appeal, the letters are in fact a compendium of a particular range of Victorian interests, and they offer a fertile ground of investigation for the social history of the Victorian period.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available