Inconvenient People by Sarah Wise
Lunacy, Liberty and the Mad-Doctors in Victorian England

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...a stunning reordering of life in the revolutionary years of the early 19th century – slightly off-kilter to be sure, but all the more persuasive for it.
-Guardian

Synopsis

The 19th century saw a series of panics about sane individuals being locked away in lunatic asylums, and public feeling often ran high against the rising 'alienist' (or 'mad doctor') profession. English liberty was seen to be under threat from a new class of men who would sign away freedom in return for the high fees paid by unscrupulous people who wanted to be rid of a 'difficult' family member, spouse or friend.
 
But who were the victims of this trade? And to what extent was it carried on? Why was it a problem for the wealthy and less so for the poor?
 
Twelve separate stories of contested lunacy cases -- ranging from the 1820s to the 1890s -- reveal the various types of persons who came under threat of incarceration, the support that their plight aroused in the public mind and the newspapers, and doctors' shifting arguments about what constituted insanity.
 

About Sarah Wise

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SARAH WISE has a BA in English Literature and a Masters degree in Victorian Studies, from Birkbeck College, University of London. Her book The Blackest Streets""was published by Bodley Head in 2008 and was shortlisted for the Royal Society of Literature's Ondaatje Prize in 2009; it was a Book of the Year in the "Sunday Telegraph "and "The Economist "and for BBC Radio 4's "Saturday Review "programme. Her debut, The Italian Boy: Murder and Grave Robbery in 1830s London, was shortlisted for the 2005 Samuel Johnson Prize and won the Crime Writers' Association Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction. Sarah was a major contributor to Iain Sinclair's compendium "London, City of Disappearances." She has spoken on Radio 4's "Thinking Allowed," "Woman's Hour "and the "Today "programme, and on BBC Radio London and LBC Radio, and she regularly lectures to societies and at history events. She lives in central London.
 
Published November 5, 2012 by Bodley Head. 496 pages
Genres: History, Law & Philosophy, Health, Fitness & Dieting, Travel.
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Guardian

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Reviewed by Kathryn Hughes on Nov 09 2012

...a stunning reordering of life in the revolutionary years of the early 19th century – slightly off-kilter to be sure, but all the more persuasive for it.

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