Monday, 10 January 2011

Inspiring Women: Harriet Martineau

We revisited Tynemouth last year, one of our favourite parts of Northumberland, England. Situated on the coast near Newcastle, it has a glorious seascape with long beaches and a ruined Abbey. This time, we stayed at a guest house I'd been looking at each time we visited the area, called Martineau House. And there I made a delightful discovery.

One of the long-ago visitors to the original house was Harriet Martineau, hence the name of the present guest house. Her name didn't really mean anything to me, until I started reading about this remarkable woman. She was born in 1802 and became a novelist, a social reformer, political economist and the first woman journalist in England. And through it all, Harriet suffered from ill-health, one of the reasons she was at the coast. It was quite exciting to see the Priory Room at the back of the guest house, from where Harriet wrote some of her work. This is part of her description of the view: "When I look forth in the morning... The myrtle-green sea tumbles..."

It is quite humbling to think of what this inspiring woman achieved from the Regency to Victorian era, a time when women were not exactly free to express themselves. Anyone interested in knowing more, can read about Harriet Martineau in my published Suite101 article.



Linda Kage said...

To think, if these women hadn't existed, would we be where we are today, publishing our own stories?? What an honor that was to visit her guest house.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Thanks for the comment, Linda. It's amazing the number of women who forged a path through history!

Vikki said...

I enjoyed reading your article - very inspiring to read what she achieved with her writing.
I took the Austen quiz and came out as Elizabeth Bennet - bet you wanted to be her!!

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Thanks for leaving a message, Vikki. Don't we all want to be her! I came out as Elinor 3 times so I had to accept it.

womagwriter said...

I was born in Tynemouth! Will be back there in the summer so I shall have to look out for Martineau house.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Oh, what a coincidence! We love it there - hubby's mother came from Whitley Bay and he still has elderly relatives there who we love to visit.

The guest house is on the left hand side of Front Street as you walk up into the town, not far up from the sea.