Disability History Month: Harriet Martineau

Available below are two pre-recorded, linked talks about Harriet Martineau for the University of Birmingham's Disability Month. Both talks organised by the Cadbury Research Library have a transcription which will work on a computer but not on a mobile device.

Harriet Martineau: Living with deafness, in her own words

Archivist Jenny Childs reads extracts from her favourite archive collection held at the Cadbury Research Library, that of nineteenth-century author Harriet Martineau. Harriet started losing her hearing at the age of 12, and in later life used an ear trumpet. This is the first of two talks about Harriet Martineau as part of the University of Birmingham’s programme of events for Disability History Month.

Watch Harriet Martineau: Living with deafness, in her own words

Twenty-first century reflections on Harriet Martineau's "Letter to the Deaf"

This second of two talks about Harriet Martineau by Helen Barrell is part of the University of Birmingham’s programme of events for Disability History Month. Helen Barrell looks through Harriet Martineau’s “Letter to the Deaf” (1834) and finds some surprising parallels with her own experience of hearing loss nearly 200 years later.

Watch Twenty-first century reflections on Harriet Martineau's "Letter to the Deaf"

Helen Barrell is a librarian at the University of Birmingham and an alumna of the English Department. She has written two books on nineteenth-century crime and forensic science. Fatal Evidence, the first book-length biography of pioneering forensic scientist Alfred Swaine Taylor, was one of the Guardian’s Best Summer Books 2018. She has co-written numerous novels, one of which was shortlisted for the 2020 Romantic Novel of the Year award and, writing as Ellie Curzon, Under a Spitfire Sky will be published by Orion in 2021. Helen has appeared on BBC1’s Murder, Mystery and My Family, and Radio 4’s Punt PI.