Harriet Martineau: Life in the Sick-Room (1356 words)


Five years of confinement to a sick-room after the diagnosis of a uterine tumour at the age of 38, left Harriet Martineau (1802-1876) with “a weight of ideas and experiences which I longed to utter, and which indeed I needed to cast off” (Autobiog. II, 170). So pressing was this need that Martineau “cast off” ten essays within a period of less than two months (170-71). Martineau, grounded in Unitarian precepts, believed chronic pain to be “the chastisement of a Father” rather than “being inflicted by cruelty or malice”, and by this book she sought to demonstrate how spiritual growth might emerge from “the evils of protracted unhealthiness” (7, ix). She wished to treat i…

Citation: Rees, Kathy. "Life in the Sick-Room". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 24 February 2021 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=13033, accessed 22 April 2021.]

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