Finding Number (Click this to view full catalogue structure)HMM
TitleMartineau family papers
Extent2 boxes
Datec 1813-c 1960s
DescriptionPapers in this collection relate mainly to Harriet Martineau and her niece, Maria Martineau. There are though records of other Martineau family members, including Thomas; Fanny Anne; Caroline; Susan; Rachel Anne; and W. Martineau. There are also a few items relating to the Chamberlain family, Joseph and his son Neville, and also to Sir George H. Kenrick, and their presence amongst the Martineau family papers perhaps reflects the close ties between the Martineau, Chamberlain, and Kenrick families.

Records within this collection include manuscripts, papers and pamphlets relating to Harriet Martineau's publications; correspondence to and from the Martineau family; legal and financial papers; photographs; sketch books; books of verse and poetry; travel maps and notes etc. Other miscellaneous items are also listed, including a more unusual item being a piece of hair and cerecloth cut from an Egyptian Mummy, accompanied by a note indicating that Harriet Martineau saw the hair cut from the head of a mummy at Thebes on the Nile in 1847. The hair and cloth is thought to date c 900BC but, that aside, the rest of the material within this Martineau family papers collection date 1813-c 1960s.
Access ConditionsAccess to all registered researchers
Finding AidsA catalogue of this collection is available on the online archive catalogue. Click on the Finding Number to display the summary contents list of the catalogue and to view the full catalogue, or view the catalogue as a PDF file by clicking in the document field below. A paper copy is also available in the Cadbury Research Library: Special Collections Department.
Access StatusOpen
Creator NameMartineau, Harriet, (1802-1876), writer
Martineau, Maria, (1827-1864), daughter of Robert Martineau and Jane (nee Smith), niece of Harriet Martineau.
Administrative HistoryHarriet Martineau (1802-1876) was a political economist, author, journalist, social commentator and leading feminist intellectual. She published widely and her publications included popular works on economics, several novels, and various children's stories. She was also a regular contributor to and editorial writer for the 'Daily News' and 'Edinburgh Review'.

She was born in Norwich in 1802, the sixth child of Thomas Martineau and Elizabeth Rankin Martineau. She began her literary career at a young age and her first article on 'Female Writers on Practical Divinity' appeared in the Unitarian periodical, 'The Monthly Repository' in 1821. Her first major successful work was 'Illustrations of Political Economy' (1832-34), which was quickly followed by 'Poor Law and Paupers Illustrated' (1833), and 'Illustrations of Taxation' (1834). She visited America between 1834 and 1836 and on her return wrote 'Society in America' (1837) and 'Retrospect of Western Travel' (1838). She continued to travel, visiting Italy, Egypt and Palestine, after which she published 'Eastern Life' (1848). Later publications included 'History of England during the Thirty Years' Peace' (1849) and a translation of Comte's 'Philosophie Positive' (1853). She lived initially in London then moved to Tynemouth near Newcastle to be near her brother. She spent four years there during a period of ill-health but from the 1840s lived at Ambleside in the Lake District in a house she designed herself.

Harriet Martineau was an exceptional correspondent throughout her life and exchanged letters not just with publishers but also with political, literary and other prominent individuals of the time. She suffered from ill-health for many years and was also profoundly deaf. During her later life she was cared for by her nieces, most notably Maria Martineau, 1827-1864, daughter of Robert Martineau and Jane (nee Smith).
Custodial HistoryPart of the collection (accession 1994/23) was loaned to Special Collections c1994 for use by a researcher. The owner agreed to deposit this collection on permanent loan with Special Collections and its status as a deposited collection is confirmed in the paper delivered by Christine Penney, then head of Special Collections, at the first meeting of the Martineau Society in July 1994 and which was published with all the other papers in the journal 'Faith and Freedom'. The rest of the collection was deposited directly with the Special Collections Department by a member of the Martineau family.
AcquisitionRecords forming the HMM collection were deposited over three occasions with Special Collections. The main accession was in 1994 (acc 1994/23), followed by two smaller deposits in 2001 (acc 2001/76), and in 2008 (acc 2008/62).
CopiesPart of this collection is available on microfilm and online.

A temporary finding aid and listing was produced as part of the microfilming process. However, the arrangement of the documents produced for the micropublication has not been retained as it did not conform to current cataloguing standards; recipients of letters had been misidentified and put in incorrect series; and the other items later deposited with Special Collections could not be fitted in to the temporary listing structure in a meaningful or logical way.

Microfilm copies:

The original deposit of papers, acquired in 1994, was filmed by Adam Matthew Publications as part of the micropublication of the collected papers of Harriet Martineau, titled: 'Women, Emancipation and Literature: The Papers of Harriet Martineau, 1802-1876'.

A reference set of the microfilm is available for consultation in the Cadbury Research Library. All visitors who have registered for a Cadbury Research Library Reader ticket will be able to use the microfilm copies.

Online access:

The microfilm has been digitally published under the title: ‘Research Source – Women’s Studies: Women, Emancipation and Literature: The Papers of Harriet Martineau, 1802-1876’.

Online access is open to members of, and visitors to, institutions that subscribe to Adam Matthew Digital products. Free four-week trials of Adam Matthew Digital products are open to teachers, faculty and librarians of universities, colleges, and academic institutions.

All visitors who have registered for a Cadbury Research Library Reader ticket can access the online copies on the public access computers in the Cadbury Research Library Reading Room.

Staff and students of the University of Birmingham may also access the products when off campus through the University’s eResources. Log in through FindIt@Bham, select Database Search and enter ‘Women’s Studies’.

For institutions that do not currently subscribe to this Adam Matthew Digital product, further information about trial access is available at
Related MaterialSee also the Harriet Martineau collection (reference: HM), and the Harriet Martineau Letters Additional collection (reference: HMLAdd).
Publication NoteVarious books have been published about Harriet Martineau including R. K. Webb, 'Harriet Martineau: a radical Victorian' (London, Heinemann; New York, Columbia University Press, 1960) and Valerie Kossew Pichanick, 'Harriet Martineau, the woman and her work, 1802-76' (Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Press, c1980). Martineau's autobiography, which was published posthumously in 1877, has also been reissued with a new introduction by Gaby Weiner (London, Virago, 1983). In addition, some of her letters have been published: 'Harriet Martineau: selected letters' edited by Valerie Sanders (Oxford, Clarendon, 1990).