Harriet Martineau (; 12 June 1802 – 27 June 1876) was a British social theorist and Whig writer, often cited as the first female sociologist.Martineau wrote many books and a multitude of essays from a sociological, holistic, religious, domestic, and perhaps most controversially, feminine perspective; she also translated various works by Auguste Comte. She earned enough to support herself entirely by her writing, a rare feat for a woman in the Victorian era.The young Princess Victoria enjoyed reading Martineau's publications. She invited Martineau to her coronation in 1838 — an event which Martineau described, in great and amusing detail, to her many readers.Martineau said of her own approach to writing: "when one studies a society, one must focus on all its aspects, including key political, religious, and social institutions". She believed a thorough societal analysis was necessary to understand women's status under men.
The novelist Margaret Oliphant said "as a born lecturer and politician [Martineau] was less distinctively affected by her sex than perhaps any other, male or female, of her generation".