Harriet Martineau Dreams of Dancing

Harriet Martineau Dreams of Dancing $15.99

Shelagh Stephenson

Published by Methuen

2 Male 4 Female

"What you havent realised is that I sew to aid my thought processes. Look needle stab stitch thought. Needle stab stitch thought. So next time you see a woman demurely sewing a sampler, be very, very wary. God knows what she may be planning"

Harriet Martineau (1802-1876) was a social theorist who is often credited as being the first female sociologist

The radical Victorian thinker was a woman ahead of her time - a feminist, abolitionist and sociologist, her works of political philosophy outsold Dickens

Yet for a period in the mid 1840s she was known as "the woman who's been lying on a chaise-longue for five years"

Shelagh Stephenson's intriguing play focuses on this obscure phase of Martineau's career when she retired to the north-east coast to recover from a debilitating condition that baffled physicians

Shut off from her usual society, Harriet is visited by a gallery of eccentrics, including ...

Impie, a recent widow who is using her new-found marital freedom to paint murals on the ceilings of her family home

Beulah, the daughter of an escaped slave who prefers dressing as a boy

And Jane, the housemaid, who is adept at putting people into a trance and could help Harriet out of illness

This is a play about female self-reliance in a time of patriarchal dominance

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