The first modern account of self-isolation was written from a woman’s bedroom in early-Victorian Britain. Harriet Martineau was a leading public intellectual, specializing in the emerging subject of political economy. In 1839, she fell ill with what she wrongly believed would be an ultimately fatal ovarian disorder.
Her response was to remove herself from society and set up home in a small rented house in Tynemouth, on the north-east coast. After five years reflecting on her condition, she published Life in the Sick-room: Essays by an Invalid.
The book immediately gained a wide readership. It rejected the prevailing orthodoxy, that the onset of terminal illness should lead to spiritual reflection under the guidance of a man of God. Instead, Martineau argued that – for women in particular – it should be a moment of asserting control over their lives…
To read the entire article from Globe and Mail, https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-what-the-history-of-self-isolation-teaches-us-about-the-current-moment/