Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



Hill, Michael R. 2004. “An Introduction to Harriet Martineau’s Lake District Writings.” Pp. 25- 54 in An Independent Woman’s Lake District Writings, by Harriet Martineau, compiled, edited, and introduced by Michael R. Hill. Amherst, NY: Humanity Books (An imprint of Prometheus Books).


Copyright 2004 Michael R. Hill


This complation presents an engaging, insightful, and inspiring smorgasbord of essays (and one didactic tale) selected from Harriet Martineau's Lake District writings from the mid-1800s. As a source of inspiration, the English Lake District has been profitably mined by scores of writers, including Martineau. The selections included here are more or less available (usually less) in scholarly and rare book collections, but are not generally obtainable for a pleasant armchair read at home or, as Martineau would certainly encourage, to tote along in one's knapsack on a weekend ramble among the lakes and hills of Cumbria. The majority of the selections were penned prior to Martineau's full-length Complete Guide to the English Lakes (1855) and happily reflect her immediate first encounters with the topography and social life surrounding the English lakes. While the collection stands on its own, it by no means includes all of Martineau's works related to the Lake District. Avid readers will thus augment their "traveler's library" with copies of Martineau's 1855 Guide, her Autobiography (1877), and a relevant set of detailed Ordnance Survey maps. The Guide and the Osgood edition of the Autobiography (with its useful index) can still be had, at some expense, from rare book dealers.