This Day

Born on this day, June 12, 1802

Harriet Martineau, author, abolitionist and lifelong feminist.

Born into a Norwich, England manufacturing family, her parents were quite progressive and assured Harriet and her sisters received the same level of education her brothers had. At 15 she said she was “becoming a political economist without knowing it“. As an author she crafted both fiction Deerbrook, and nonfiction Illustrations of Political Economy and an autobiography. A Victorian era woman, she wrote about the sexual degradation of women, slave and free, and its effect on children, society and economy. Harriet worked for the causes close to her heart both as a writer, (proclaiming the state of American and British culture before the Civil War and slavery both for the slave and the indentured servant as inherent injustice) and as a fancywork needlewoman, selling her embroidery to raise money for the abolitionists in America.

In her 3 volume work Society in America, Harriet wrote:

The sum and substance of female education in America, as in England, is training women to consider marriage as the sole object in life, and to pretend that they do not think so. (1837)

Perhaps the Mrs Degree has lost its general appeal as marriage has changed, but relationship success and who’s got whom (and how they were got) certainly pervades the middle-school corridors during passing periods and appears the “sole object” in adolescent life in 2014.

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