Harriet Martineau

Further Letters
Deborah A. Logan, ed.
Lehigh University Press - Harriet Martineau
Harriet Martineau (1802–1876) is one of the most prolific and well-connected Victorian writers to have fallen off the literary map in the century following her death. During a career spanning half a century, Martineau wrote over fifty didactic-fiction tales, about forty books, and well over two thousand periodical articles. Emphasizing the pervasiveness of her literary influence, most of her books underwent multiple editions and translations, while her periodicals writing placed her at the forefront of the mass-media reading public. 
 
But it is her correspondence that best illustrates the breadth and depth of her sociocultural and intellectual contributions. In 1843, Martineau notoriously asserted control over her letters by insisting that her correspondents destroy or return them or else forfeit the epistolary relationship. Just as notoriously, an astonishing number of correspondents quietly refused to comply, resulting in more than two thousand extant pieces of correspondence. The materials in Harriet Martineau: Further Letters range from the 1820s through 1870s and include both private and professional correspondence, from brief notes to long discourses, addressing topics from domestic minutiae and personal health to national and international affairs.
 
A key strength of this collection is its eclecticism, best seen in the letters to some of the most significant people in her life—Maria Weston Chapman, Jane Welsh Carlyle, James Martineau, Elizabeth Jesser Reid, and Henry Atkinson—the originals of which have been destroyed, lost, or are otherwise unavailable. Contextualizing as prolific and well-connected an individual as Harriet Martineau contributes directly to broader scholarship on the Victorian era, its prominent players, and the issues with which they grappled. Martineau was an interdisciplinary thinker and writer long before the term acquired its present popular currency—another factor accounting both for her posthumous unfashionability and her present renaissance.
 
Reviews:
 
The progressive social commentaries of feisty Victorian writer Harriet Martineau made her a controversial voice of the period. Journalism that draws its fire from current events usually becomes dated and boring to later readers; Martineau's writing was enlivened by style. Martineau was marginalized by deafness, so she compensated for loss of person-to-person conversation with extensive letter writing. The resurgence of interest in her began with R. K. Webb's fine biography, Harriet Martineau: A Radical Victorian (1960); more recently her letters have been collected, notably by Logan in The Collected Letters of Harriet Martineau (5v, 2007). Logan here supplements that set with additional letters she has located. She arranges the letters chronologically by decade (1830-70) and thematically (e.g., correspondence to her brother James Martineau). Martineau's style is clear, elegant, and witty. Ranging from thank-you notes to challenging letters to conservative figures, letters collected here were sent to such famous personages as Elizabeth Barrett, Jane Welsh Carlyle, and Elizabeth Gaskell. Including thorough chapter notes and several appendixes (biographical dictionary, place-names, Martineau's periodical writing), this volume will appeal to anyone interested in Victorian cultural history and women writers. Summing Up: Recommended.
 
--S. A. Parker, emerita, Hiram College, Choice
 
This extraordinary volume is a magnificent addition to the new scholarship on Harriet Martineau....This work is strongly recommended, without reservation, for all college, university, and research libraries. Logan’s wide interdisciplinary scholarship, her obvious devotion to Harriet Martineau and the Victorian world in which she lived, and her uncompromising attention to accuracy are marvels to behold.
 
--Sociological Origins
 
ISBN: 
9781611460872 (R&L)
Price: 
$126.00
Year: 
2011
© IMRC CAS 2016
Lehigh University Press | B040 Christmas-Saucon Hall | 14 East Packer Avenue | Bethlehem, PA 18015