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The Woman and the Hour

The Woman and the Hour: Harriet Martineau and Victorian Ideologies

Copyright Date: 2002
Pages: 264
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  • Book Info
    The Woman and the Hour
    Book Description:

    Roberts situates Martineau's controversial writing in its historical context and presents a sophisticated scholarly analysis of their predominantly hostile reception.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8255-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Introduction: Contexts and Controversies
    (pp. 3-9)

    This study has its incenption is an observation by harriet martineau (1802-76) in her posthumously publishedAutobiography(1877):

    On five occasions in my life I have found myself obliged to write and publish what I entirely believed would be ruinous to my reputation and prosperity. In no one of the five cases has the result been what I anticipated. I find myself at the close of my life prosperous in name and fame, in my friendships and in my affairs.¹

    Harriet Martineau was one of the nineteenth century′s most prolific writers, whose articles for theDaily Newsalone number in...

  5. Chapter One Gendered Discourses and a Sociology of Texts: Illustrations of Political Economy (1832–4)
    (pp. 10-25)

    In February 1832, Harriet Martineau′s life ′burst suddenly into summer′ with the success of herIllustrations of Political Economy(1832-4), a collection of twenty-five tales published in monthly numbers, exemplifying the theories of Smith, Bentham, Ricardo, Malthus, McCulloch, and James Mill (HMA1:180).¹ The stories aim to teach readers political economy by exhibiting its principles ′in their natural workings in selected passages of social life′ and were inspired by Jane Marcet′sConversations on Political Economy (HMA1:138).² Martineau believed that her series was ′craved by the popular mind,′ and, indeed, the astonishing popularity of her tales suggests her proficiency with...

  6. Chapter Two The Linguistic Structure of American Society
    (pp. 26-51)

    In 1834, having completed herIllustrations of Political Economy, Harriet Martineau boarded a sailing packet in Liverpool and headed to New York. She spent the next two years travelling through America, armed with letters of introduction to prominent Americans, spending time in New York, Baltimore, Washington, Boston, Charleston, and New Orleans. She attended weddings and orations, visited prisons and factories, stayed at Southern plantations, and witnessed slave auctions. Having achieved fame with herIllustrations, she was ′Lafayetted.′ Wherever she went, doors were opened, and she was abundantly provided with information. She dined with President Jackson and stayed with the Madisons...

  7. Chapter Three Realism and Feminism: Deerbrook (1839)
    (pp. 52-75)

    Six weeks before harriet martineau began to writeDeerbrook, she learned that John Murray was interested in publishing her novel. Since Murray had entertained no applications to publish a novel since Scott′s, his willingness to publish hers appeared to her ′a remarkable fact′ (HMA2:114).¹ At the last moment, Murray withdrew his interest: friends of John Gibson Lockhart had disclosed that the novel′s hero was an apothecary. Happily, others were not so cautious, and Edward Moxon published two large editions ofDeerbrookwithout meeting the demand for it. IfDeerbrook′s middle-class setting distressed many of its first readers, this focus,...

  8. Chapter Four History and Romance: The Hour and the Man (1841)
    (pp. 76-106)

    After the publication ofDeerbrook, Martineau embarked on a Continental tour. She accompanied an invalid cousin to Switzerland and then travelled through Italy with two other friends. The tour provided Martineau with some favourable opportunities, not the least of which was that of escape from London, where relations with her mother were becoming increasingly difficult. Mrs Martineau was now partially blind and required more attention than her daughter wished or was able to give. The tour also enabled Martineau to visit the fortress of Joux near Besançon in the Juras, where Toussaint L′Ouverture, the black leader of the revolution (1791)...

  9. Chapter Five Invalidism, Mesmerism, and the Medical Profession: Life in the Sick-Room (1844) and Letters on Mesmerism (1844)
    (pp. 107-138)

    Martineau wroteThe Hour and the Manduring the first part of an illness that was to last five years. She had been travelling through Italy with some of her friends when she was debilitated by gynaecological problems at Venice in 1839. Returning to England, she established herself at Tynemouth, where she was attended by her brother-in-law, Dr Thomas M. Greenhow. As for many Victorians, illness provided Martineau with a reprieve from the stresses of life, but it was not a permanent condition for her. Instead, Martineau believed that she was cured by mesmerism and published an account of her...

  10. Chapter Six History and Religious Faith: Eastern Life, Present and Past (1848)
    (pp. 139-168)

    At the same time that mesmerism′s opponents harboured lingering doubts about her renewed health, Martineau embarked on a six-month journey to Egypt and the Holy Land, where, despite her recent illness, she proved a surprisingly hardy traveller. She scaled the Great Pyramid and Mount Sinai, bathed in the Jordan and the Dead Sea, and trekked through the desert on camel and on foot. Even more surprising to her contemporaries, however, was the apparent atheism ofEastern Life, Present and Past, published in 1848 after her travels.¹ Martineau′s personal experience of sickness, described inLife in the Sick-Room(1844), was characterized...

  11. Chapter Seven Shaking the Faith: Letters on the Laws of Manʹs Nature and Development (1851)
    (pp. 169-192)

    In February 1848, prior to the publication ofEastern Life, Present and Past, Martineau wrote to Henry Atkinson expressing her concerns about the book′s reception: ′The book once out, I am in for it, and must and will bear every thing.′ For Martineau,Eastern Lifewas her boldest text to date: ′Some people would think the Population number of my Political Economy, and the Women and Marriage and Property chapters in my American books, and the Mesmerism affair, bolder feats: but I know that they were not.′ Martineau had been sustained in these earlier ventures by a belief in a...

  12. Conclusion
    (pp. 193-196)

    In 1877, one year after Harriet Martineau′s death, Florence Fenwick Miller delivered a speech before the Sunday Lecture Society on the significance of Martineau′s life and work. She described Martineau as ′one of the most remarkable women that ever lived′: born to a middleclass family, she became a political power in England; born a member of a sex supposedly ′″incapable of understanding politics,″′ she demonstrated the fallacy of denying political existence to women.¹ Miller also perceived that Martineau had suffered from such ′torture as could be inflicted on such a mind by misrepresentation, slander, and abuse of her convictions′ (Miller...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 197-232)
  14. Works Cited
    (pp. 233-246)
  15. Index
    (pp. 247-253)