Harriet Martineau was born in Norwich, England, to a family of French Huguenot origins. Her progressive parents saw to it that all their children were well and equally educated. She published some devotional works anonymously as a teenager, but was forced into selling needlepoint and hack writing to help support her family after her father's business failure and death. She went on to produce reviews, short stories, and essays. She developed increasing deafness, which she described as "very noticeable, very inconvenient, and excessively painful." In 1832, she began publishing a series of articles on political economy, which proved to be an immediate and enormous success. She became one of the most widely admired writers of her day. Today she is considered one of the first female sociologists. Harriet Martineau spent the years 1834 to 1836 in the USA, where she joined the abolitionist movement, the first of several radical causes she would champion. Her autobiography was published posthumously in two volumes in 1877.