Finding Number (Click this to view full catalogue structure)HM/471-523
TitleAutograph letters, signed from Harriet Martineau to [Frederick Knight] Hunt, [editor of the Daily News]
Extent53 items
DescriptionThis section contains letters written by Harriet Martineau to Mr Frederick Knight Hunt. Martineau writes to Hunt in his capacity as editor of the Daily News, but it is clear they also have a shared friendship, for as well as discussions about future articles Martineau planned to write, she discussed her holiday plans, politics, current events etc with him, and frequently invited him to her house in Ambleside. Most letters date 1852-1854, with two further letters sent to Mrs Hunt after Frederick Hunt's death in 1854.

It is probably these letters are the ones purchased by Harriet Martineau herself when she found them for sale at auction (see HM/465-469). Martineau blamed Hunt's son, Frederick Everard Hunt, for selling her letters, but he denied knowledge of how they got to be part of the auction.
NotesFew of Martineau's letters in this section have a year date. C. Robinson, Department of English, Pacific Lutheran University, USA, gave suggestions for year dates when research was carried out in October 1999, and these have been added to the catalogue entries in square brackets.
Access StatusOpen
Administrative HistoryHunt, Frederick Knight (1814–1854), journalist, was born at Horton, Buckinghamshire, on 3 April 1814, the eldest of six children of John Hunt, an artist, and his wife, Mary Ann. Having secured a literary engagement with a ‘short-lived morning newspaper’, he found time to study medicine at the North London School of Medicine and on 13 November 1840 he became MRCS. In 1839 Hunt established the Medical Times, which was incorporated in January 1852 with the Medical Gazette. Threats of libel actions by medical figures after he took up the cause of the mesmerist John Elliotson forced him to sell up in 1841 and take a position as surgeon to a poor-law union in Norfolk. He returned to London after a year, and, while continuing to practise medicine, resumed his connection with the press and was briefly employed in the offices of the Anti-Corn Law League. He was successively sub-editor of the Illustrated London News, which he helped to launch in May 1842, and editor of the Pictorial Times. He edited the London Journal in 1844.

On the establishment of the Daily News in 1846, he was selected by Dickens as one of the assistant editors, probably on the recommendation of Henry Vizetelly. In 1851 he was made chief editor of the Daily News, and under him the paper first became prosperous. He launched the journalistic career of Harriet Martineau. He was a contributor to Household Words during its first two years and in a letter to R. H. Horne in 1851 Dickens remarked that he had done the publication ‘very good service indeed’ (Lohrli, 319). Hunt died of typhus fever at his home in Forest Hill, London, on 18 November 1854, leaving a widow and four children, and was buried at Nunhead cemetery.

Information taken from Oxford DNB. September 2014.


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