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About the book
  • Published: 4 October 2012
  • ISBN: 9781409027959
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 496
Categories:

Inconvenient People

Lunacy, Liberty and the Mad-Doctors in Victorian England




This highly original book brilliantly exposes the phenomenon of false allegations of lunacy (and the dark motives behind them...) in the Victorian period.

This highly original book brilliantly exposes the phenomenon of false allegations of lunacy and the dark motives behind them in the Victorian period.


Gaslight tales of rooftop escapes, men and women snatched in broad daylight, patients shut in coffins, a fanatical cult known as the Abode of Love…

The nineteenth century saw repeated panics about sane individuals being locked away in lunatic asylums. With the rise of the ‘mad-doctor’ profession, English liberty seemed to be threatened by a new generation of medical men willing to incarcerate difficult family members in return for the high fees paid by an unscrupulous spouse or friend.

Sarah Wise uncovers twelve shocking stories, untold for over a century and reveals the darker side of the Victorian upper and middle classes – their sexuality, fears of inherited madness, financial greed and fraudulence – and chillingly evoke the black motives at the heart of the phenomenon of the ‘inconvenient person.'

‘A fine social history of the people who contested their confinement to madhouses in the 19th century, Wise offers striking arguments, suggesting that the public and juries were more intent on liberty than doctors and families’ Sunday Telegraph

  • Pub date: 4 October 2012
  • ISBN: 9781409027959
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 496
Categories:

About the Author

Sarah Wise

Sarah Wise has an MA in Victorian Studies from Birkbeck College. She teaches 19th-century social history and literature to both undergraduates and adult learners, and is visiting professor at the University of California’s London Study Center, and a guest lecturer at City University.
Her interests are London/urban history, working-class history, medical history, psychogeography, 19th-century literature and reportage.
Her website is www.sarahwise.co.uk

Her most recent book, Inconvenient People: Lunacy, Liberty and the Mad-Doctors in Victorian England (Bodley Head), was shortlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize 2014.

Her 2004 debut, The Italian Boy: Murder and Grave Robbery in 1830s London (Jonathan Cape), was shortlisted for the 2005 Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction. Her follow-up The Blackest Streets: The Life and Death of a Victorian Slum was published in 2008 and was shortlisted for the Royal Society of Literature's Ondaatje Prize.

Sarah was a major contributor to Iain Sinclair's compendium London, City of Disappearances (2006). She has contributed to the TLS, History Today, BBC History magazine, the Literary Review, the FT and the Daily Telegraph. She discussed bodysnatching for BBC2’s History Cold Case series; provided background material for BBC1’s Secret History of Our Streets; and spoke about Broadmoor Hospital on Channel 5’s programme on that institution.She has been a guest on Radio 4’s All in the Mind, Radio 3’s Night Waves and the Guardian’s Books Podcast about 19th-century mental health.

Also by Sarah Wise

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Praise for Inconvenient People

“Excellent”

Kathryn Hughes, Guardian

“A fine social history of the people who contested their confinement to madhouses in the 19th century, Wise offers striking arguments, suggesting that the public and juries were more intent on liberty than doctors and families”

Sunday Telegraph

“Action-packed and entertaining… [A] marvellous book”

Christopher Hirst

“Fascinating… It has enough tragedy, comedy, farce and horror to fill a dozen fat novels, and enough bizarre characters to people them”

Suzi Feay, Financial Times

“Wise is a terrific researcher and storyteller. Here she has woven a series of case studies into a fascinating history of insanity in the 19th century”

Kate Summerscale, Guardian Books of the Year

“Deeply researched and gripping...it makes for harrowing reading”

A.N. Wilson, Mail on Sunday

“An illuminating look at an area of social history that inspired Wilkie Collins among others”

Sebastian Faulks, Daily Telegraph, Books of the Year

“Excellent... One often feels as if one is actually present at the scenes she describes. There can be no higher praise... Inconvenient People is as interesting a work of social history as you are ever likely to read.”

Anthony Daniels, Spectator

“Fascinating and chilling, Inconvenient People reads like a series of Victorian novels in brief - only all the tales are true”

Bel Mooney, Daily Mail

“This superlative study opens the door on the cruelty of the quacks who locked up lost souls”

Edward Pearce, Independent

“Several riveting cases Sarah Wise has unearthed for this fine social history of contested lunacy in the 19th century... Wise has given us a fascinating book that teems with rich archival research. The pictorial sources are an added boon and make for a wonderfully illustrated addition to the history of the 19th century”

Lisa Appignanesi, Daily Telegraph

“Rich, gripping and moving mix of social history, psychiatry and storytelling”

Your Family Tree

“A dark and disturbing investigation...trenchant and disturbing book”

John Carey, Sunday Times

“There is so much to interest and entertain in this book, which is enhanced by over eighty informative illustrations”

Gillian Tindall, Literary Review

“A wonderfully engaging book”

Jad Adams, Who Do You Think You Are Magazine

“Fascinating book (4 stars)”

Michael Kerrigan, Scotsman

“Wise reopens 12 uncontested lunacy cases from the 1800s, meticulously exploring the details of each and recreating the stories with a page-turning eye for a great narrative”

Independent

“Excellent”

Kathryn Hughes, Guardian

“Sarah Wise knows how to grab the reader’s attention with phrases that would have done Bulwer-Lytton proud. But the book’s readability does not disguise its scholarship. This is a valuable contribution to our understanding of nineteenth-century ”

Charlotte Moore, Book Oxygen

“I thrilled to Sarah Wise’s Inconvenient People, an enthralling study of those who fell foul of Victorian mad-doctors and greedy relatives”

Philip Hoare, Sunday Telegraph

“It makes for a harrowing read, but much of it is also hilarious, and as gripping as the most lurid Victorian melodramatic novel. Yet again, one closes a book with the impression that beneath the polished mahogany surfaces and shimmering silks of Victorian interiors lurked Hell itself”

A. N. Wilson, Mail on Sunday


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