What you haven’t realised is that I sew to aid my thought processes. Look ? needle ? stab ? stitch ? thought. Needle ? stab ? stitch ? thought. So next time you see a woman demurely sewing a sampler, be very, very wary. God knows what she may be planning. Harriet Martineau (1802?1876) was a social theorist who is often credited as being the first female sociologist. In Harriet Martineau Dreams of Dancing, Shelagh Stephenson depicts the great writer in a period of convalescence, living as an invalid by the sea in Tynemouth. Shut off from her usual society, Harriet is visited by women of the locale; 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 a woman who’d been sold into slavery and escaped; and Jane, the housemaid, whose unfeted and unexpected gifts lift her out of domestic servitude and could help Harriet out of illness. Harriet Martineau is a play about female self-reliance in a time of patriarchal dominance. Written by Shelagh Stephenson, it premiered at Live Theatre, Newcastle, in winter 2016.