|Harriet Martineau (1802-1876)
Was born at Gurney Court off Magdalen Street.
(The Quaker prison reformer Elizabeth Fry was also born in
Gurney Court. Her portrait is on the back of the £5
note.) There are plaques on the wall of the
alley way leading into the court commemorating both
Harriet Martineau Plaque, Gurney Court, Magdalen Street
Harriett's childhood was blighted by ill heath (deafness) and poverty.
Today, she is chiefly remembered for her essays on
social reform and her work as a campaigning journalist -
however she also wrote moral tales for children. In 1834 she
travelled to America and campaigned against the slavery
trade - even though this put her own life in danger. In
1837 her book Society in America was published.
In 1845 she settled in the Lake District and became a
friend of William Wordsworth.
As a child she frequently attended services at the
Octagon Chapel on Colegate.
However, later in life she abandoned all religious
Her other published works include: History of the
Thirty Years' Peace, The Philosophy of Comte,
Laws of Man's Social Nature, Deerbrook (a
novel) and The Hour and the Man (a biography of
Harriet Martineau was almost certainly a product of the
radical (dissenting) tradition that prevailed in
Norwich. Cut off from the rest of the country, Norwich
has always been an independent city fostering
non-conformist values. Even today the motto of the
county of Norfolk is 'Do Different'.
Unfortunately her link with Norwich has been largely
forgotten. Martineau Lane was actually named after here
uncle Dr Philip Meadows Martineau.