Northern Illinois University Press


The Hour and the Woman

Harriet Martineau's "Somewhat Remarkable" Life

Deborah Anna Logan

"A splendid book, richly detailed and well documented. Logan builds an excellent case for a restoration of Martineau's status as one of the leading Victorian intellectuals and political activists."—Gayle Graham Yates, author of Harriet Martineau on Women

"A significant contribution about a writer who is gradually but steadily assuming a central place in nineteenth-century studies and women's history."
—Maria Frawley, University of Delaware

A British journalist and pioneering reformer, Harriet Martineau reigned at the forefront of debates over social and political issues during the Victorian era. The Hour and the Woman chronicles the "somewhat remarkable" life of one of history's most influential, yet overlooked, women writers.

At a time when women were valued primarily for appearance, social class, and marital status, Martineau—plain, poor, and single—fought against the odds to win recognition as a writer. Her first professional triumph came in the 1830s when she published a multivolume work on political economy. International fame and literary reputation followed, launching a career that would span the next thirty-five years and plunge Martineau into heated reform efforts on both sides of the Atlantic.

Martineau strove to use her personal and political influence for good by staunchly supporting the causes in which she believed. Her fight for the eradication of slavery strengthened the abolitionist movement in the years before the American Civil War, and her advocacy of temperance and women's rights lent crucial assistance to those causes. Many of Martineau's contemporary female writers, including Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Harriet Beecher Stowe, supported her in these endeavors and encouraged her through long-lasting correspondence.

The most comprehensive Martineau history to date, The Hour and the Woman offers a unique view of one of the nineteenth century's most complex and fascinating women.

(2002) 343 pp.
ISBN: 978-0-87580-297-8
cloth $46.50

Deborah Anna Logan, editor of Harriet Martineau's Writings on Slavery and the American Civil War, is Assistant Professor of English at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
A Note on the Letters
Prologue: Literary Grandmothers and the Spirit of the Victorian Age
1. Popularizer and Prophet: A Victorian Literary Identity
2. Fancywork and Bluestockingism; or, Needles and Pens
3. America's Martyr Age and Reign of Terror
4. "I Would Fain Treat of Woman"
5. "Not Fine Ladies, But True-Hearted Englishwomen"
6. "(Entre Nous, Please)": "Letters Are the Thing"
Epilogue: "The One Thing Needful"
Appendix
Notes
Works Cited
Index

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ISBN: 978-0-87580-297-8
cloth $46.50