A British journalist and pioneering social reformer, Harriet Martineau reigned at the forefront of 19th century debates about social and political issues. This work chronicles her life, showing how her fight for the eradication of slavery strengthened the abolitionist movement in the years before the American Civil War, and her advocacy of health reform and women's rights lent crucial assistance to those causes. At a time when women were valued primarily for appearance, social class, and marital status, Martineau - plain, poor, and single - had more than just literary prejudices to overcome. Her first professional triumph came in the 1830s when she published a multivolume work on political economy. International fame and literary reputation followed, launching a career that would span the next 35 years and plunge Martineau into heated reform effects on both sides of the Atlantic.