Skip to main content

Harriet Martineau correspondence to William Ware

Call Number: MS Eng.244

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of correspondence from Harriet Martineau to William Ware from 1835 to 1849. During this time, Martineau wrote from both the United States, including her time in Salem and Boston, Massachusetts, and England. The correspondence covers topics such as their writings and reactions to it; writings of their peers; mutual friends, including Catherine Sedgwick and her family; the abolitionist movement in America; the passing of Ware’s son; and Martineau’s health. Some of the letters in the collection are written in the cross-writing style.


  • 1835 - 1849


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Items in this collection may be subject to copyright restrictions. In most cases, the Boston Public Library does not hold the copyright to the items in our collections. It is the sole responsibility of the user to make their own determination about what types of usage might be permissible under U.S. and international copyright law.

Harriet Martineau (1802-1876)

Harriet Martineau, 19th century British writer and journalist, was born in 1802 in Norwich, England to parents Thomas and Elizabeth Martineau. A prolific writer, Martinaeu wrote several books, both fiction and non-fiction, on the topics of economics, religion, the role of women in society, and invalidism. Her best-known works are Illustrations of Political Economy (1832–34), Society in America (1837), Retrospect of Western Travel (1838), Deerbrook (1839), Eastern Life Present and Past (1848), and Autobiography (1877). She also regularly published articles in the Unitarian journal Monthly Review and the Daily News. Martineau befriended many prominent intellectuals while living in London, England as well as transcendentalists and abolitionists whom she met while travelling to Boston, Massachusetts in the mid-1830s. She reflected these relationships and philosophies in her writings, especially taking up the anti-slavery cause. During her travels to Boston, Martineau met American Unitarian minister and writer William Ware, with whom she later struck up a correspondence, and visited with in both the United States and England. Martineau died in 1876 at her house, “The Knoll,” in Ambleside, England.

William Ware (1797-1852)

William Ware was a 19th century American Unitarian minister and writer. He was born in Hingham, Massachusetts in 1797 to Mary Clark and Henry Ware, Sr. Ware graduated from Harvard University in 1816 and then studied divinity with his father. In 1821 he became the only Universalist minister in New York City, New York and remained in that role until 1836, when he resigned his post. Ware returned to the Boston, Massachusetts area and took up writing, while also occasionally preaching at area churches. He purchased the Christian Examiner in 1838 and served as the editor until 1844. Ware authored three novels: Letters from Palmyra (1837) (later known as Zenobia); Probus (1838); and Julian (1841), and one work of non-fiction: The Antiquity and Revival of Unitarian Christianity (1831). Ware died in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1852.


.25 Cubic Feet (3 folders)

Language of Materials



The material is arranged chronologically.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased from Goodspeed's Bookshop on the Henry M. Whitney Memorial Fund established by James Lyman Whitney, 1967.

Processing Information

Information in this finding aid is transcribed from an earlier manuscript inventory, in which materials are described in several different ways. These descriptions have been retained to help researchers understand the contents of the collection. The format is described in a note for each file. The notes sometimes contain additional descriptions or paraphrases of contents. The physical items listed are further described in a physical description note which includes the number of unique intellectual items, and number of pages. Page counts include the front and back of each sheet, excluding blank pages. Single letters or manuscripts composed of multiple sheets are described as “1 item”, so a letter comprised of 3 sheets of paper with one blank side, would be described as “1 item (5 pages)”. In some cases, multiple items in the same folder may be listed separately.

Processing Information

This collection is held within the Boston Public Library Rare Books and Manuscripts Department's English Civilization collection.

Processing Information

This electronic finding aid is transcribed from legacy data. In many cases, transcriptions were not verified against collection materials at the time of transcription. As a result, this finding aid could be incomplete and might only reflect a partial understanding of the material.

Statement on harmful description

Archival description reflects the biases of time periods and cultures in which it was created and may include direct quotations or descriptions that use inappropriate or harmful language. Creator provided descriptions may be maintained in order to preserve the context in which the collection was created and/or used. Legacy description and potentially offensive content may be made available online until a collection can be reprocessed because the access that they provide to primary source materials is uniquely valuable to the research community at large. Our efforts to repair outdated descriptions and to describe our collections more equitably are iterative and ongoing.

Guide to the Harriet Martineau correspondence to William Ware
Boston Public Library staff and Margaret Peachy.
2022 July
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

About this library

Part of the Boston Public Library Archives & Special Collections Repository

700 Boylston Street
Boston MA 02116 United States