Christmas in the Asylum

Imagine spending Christmas inside Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum in the nineteenth century. What a horrible thought!  A long way from the cosy Dickensian Christmas of the roaring fire, Christmas tree, roast goose and plum pudding that the rest of Britain was enjoying.  But was Christmas in the asylum really so much worse than on the outside?

Broadmoor’s main entrance

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Archives and History News

Plenty of people have been complaining about the new-fangled fashion for selfies. They may be surprised to find that this crazy narcissistic trend was actually started in 1839 by photographer Robert Cornelius!

Self-portrait of Robert Cornelius

He’s rather a handsome romantic-looking man, isn’t he?

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On the Bookshelf: Inconvenient People by Sarah Wise

Sarah Wise’s 2012 book Inconvenient People: Lunacy,Liberty and the Victorian Mad-Doctors explores the real-life stories that inspired the well-worn Victorian cliché of the sane woman carted off to a lunatic asylum by scheming relatives. Inconvenient People’s most startling revelation is that in almost all cases the wrongfully incarcerated asylum inmates were men. The idea of the woman in peril was just as titillating to the Victorians as it is to us, but in those days only men had money, and money was the main motivator for wrongfully declaring someone a lunatic. Continue reading