Inconvenient People

Inconvenient People : Lunacy, Liberty and the Mad-Doctors in Victorian England

3.82 (405 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

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
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Product details

  • Paperback | 496 pages
  • 129 x 198 x 36mm | 455g
  • VINTAGE
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0099541866
  • 9780099541868
  • 214,699

Review Text

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

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 * 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 * Action-packed and entertaining... [A] marvellous book -- Christopher Hirst * i * 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 * Excellent -- Kathryn Hughes * Guardian *
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About 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.
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Rating details

405 ratings
3.82 out of 5 stars
5 24% (96)
4 43% (176)
3 26% (104)
2 6% (23)
1 1% (6)
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