Harriet Martineau Dreams of Dancing
Published by Methuen
2 Male 4 Female
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