Life in the Sick Room

Martineau continues her progressive social reform work in Life in the Sick Room. The text is much more personal than Illustrations of Political Economy and other earlier works. At the time of writing, Martineau believed that she was fatally ill. An early near-death studies text, Life in the Sick Room talks about the impacts of becoming ill or disabled on one’s psyche. Martineau addresses both those who are suffering and their caretakers, arguing that the latter need to have sympathy for the former. In addition, Martineau explores the gendered implications of medicine, examining how female patients often suffer more than their male counterparts. The text still resonates as an important piece of sociology today. She dedicated the text to Elizabeth Barrett Browning, another groundbreaking 19th century female writer included in this exhibit.

Lehigh University Catalog Record:

A version of this text has been digitized and is available through the Internet Archive.

Harriet Martineau (1802-1876)
Life in the Sick Room
Reprint of the 1844 edition originally published by Leonard C. Bowles and William Crosby, Boston