We are proud to publish  in segments and for the first time, an extensive biography of Harriet Martineau by Elisabeth Sanders Arbuckle (1928-2019), founding member of the Martineau Society, renowned Martineau scholar and previous President of the Society entitled A Nineteenth-Century Woman’s Engaging with her Times: Harriet Martineau (1802-1876).

As an introduction we provide a brief overview of Professor Arbuckle’s life and achievements below. Click here for a PDF version

Elisabeth Sanders Arbuckle (1928-2019)

Elisabeth Arbuckle was President of the Martineau Society and a much-loved scholar and colleague. Born in Pasadena, California, on 8 August 1928, Elisabeth Marie Sanders (known to her friends as Betsy) studied at the University of Edinburgh for her PhD, and taught literature at the University of Puerto Rico. She was a regular visitor to London most summers, spending much of her time in the British Library, and presenting papers at the Martineau Society’s annual conferences She is best known for her meticulous edition of Harriet Martineau’s letters to Fanny Wedgwood, published by Stanford University Press in 1983, and for Harriet Martineau in the London Daily News: Selected Contributions 1852-1866 (Garland Publishing, 1994). Both of these works have been invaluable to Martineau scholars, and were due to be supplemented by a substantial biography which Elisabeth had been working on for many years, when we were saddened to hear of her death on 3 April 2019. Her son Michael Arbuckle has made available the whole typescript to the Martineau Society, which we will be publishing in instalments on this site. We welcome discussion of this monumental work, which will be a valuable addition to the body of existing scholarship on Harriet Martineau.


The Book

We now proceed with the first five chapters of the book, preceded by a contents list and prologue.

Click here for title, contents list and copyright details

Click here for the Prologue, Huguenot Background: Gaston Martineau I; the Martineau Family in Norwich (1685-1802)

Click here for Chapter 1, Harriet Martineau Grows Up in Norwich (1802-1819)

Click here for Chapter 2, Young Adulthood (1819-1824)

Click here for Chapter 3, Hard Times: Financial Losses and Death of Thomas Martineau (1824-1826)

Click here for Chapter 4, New Challenges: Harriet’s Marriage Proposal and Elizabeth’s Quarrels with Helen, Tom’s Widow (1826-1827)

Click here for Chapter 5, The Monthly Repository: Martineau Gains Confidence and Extends the Range of Her Writings (1827-1832)

Click here for Chapter 6, Success in London: Martineau Creates a “Political Economy” Series and Becomes a Celebrity (1832-1833)

Click here for Chapter 7, The Series Continues: The Poor Law Tales (1833-1834)

Click here for Chapter 8, Last of the Series a Let-down, but Martineau’s Reputation Intact (1834)

Click here for Chapter 9, Harriet Martineau Discovers America (1834)

Click here for Chapter 10, Dangerous Journeying in the “South” (1835)

Click here for Chapter 11, Additional Americans; New Orleans, Paddle-Steaming up the Mississippi River (1835)

Click here for Chapter 12, Travelling on Land, the Mammoth Cave, New Friends in the Middle-West (1835)

Click here for Chapter 13, Staying on in America: New England Scenes, Harvard Notables, the White Mountains, American Abolitionists (1835-1836)

Click here for Chapter 14, Return to the West (1836)

Click here for Chapter 15, Voyaging Home, Difficult and Amusing Passengers, Arrival at Liverpool (1836)

Click here for Chapter 16, Reporting on America (1837)

Click here for Chapter 17, Popularity in London: Visits, Entertaining, Contemporaries, New Authorship (1837-1838)

Click here for Chapter 18, Novelist; the Coronation, International Copyright Law, British Association for the Advancement of Science, Travel/Scotland, Prisons and American Abolitionists (1838)

Click here for Chapter 19, Work, London (1838-1839)

Click here for Chapter 20, Continental Touring: Toussaint’s Prison, Venice, Illness (1839)

Click here for Chapter 21, An Invalid, Martineau Stays in Newcastle and Settles at Tynemouth (1839)

Click here for Chapter 22, Lodging on Front Street, Tynemouth: Martineau’s “Cheerers,” Stories for Children (1840-1841)

Click here for Chapter 23, Correspondence (1841-2)

Click here for Chapter 24, Martineau Grows Weaker but Her Letters Grow Longer (1841-1842)

Click here for Chapter 25, Friends Organize a Testimonial Fund, Invalidism Ease (1842-1843)

Click here for Chapter 26, Lingering Illness, Celebrity Revived, Mesmerism (1844)

Click here for Chapter 27, A New Life (1844-5)

Click here for Chapter 28, New Friendships (1845)

Click here for Chapter 29, Mesmerism, Writings, Martineau’s New “Cottage”, Surprise Invitation to Travel (1845)

Click here for Chapter 30, Eastern Travel, Egypt (1846-1847)

Click here for Chapter 31, The Holy Lands, New Religious Concepts (1847)

Click here for Chapter 32, Carlyle on Martineau: “Life, Loquacity, Dogmatism, and Various ‘gospels of the East-Wind'” (1847-1848)