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Ten Days in a Mad-House

Nellie Bly

Ten Days in a Mad-House, by Nellie Bly - click to see full size image

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Ten Days in a Mad-House; or, Nellie Bly's Experience on Blackwell's Island is a piece of investigative journalism by American journalist Nellie Bly, first published in 1887. It is based on the articles that Bly wrote whilst on an undercover assignment for the New York World, where she feigned insanity at a women's boarding house so as to be involuntarily committed to an insane asylum (the Women's Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell's Island). Her account reports upon the brutality and neglect that she witnessed whilst there.

After talking her way into the undercover job with the newspaper, she checked into the boarding house and by the next morning, the boarders had called the police, convinced that Bly was crazy. She had been telling them she was afraid of them and claimed to have amnesia. She was then examined by several doctors, all of whom declared her insane. Once in the asylum however, Bly returned to acting completely normally. Incredibly, the hospital staff began to report her ordinary actions, and her pleas to be released as symptoms of her mental illness. Speaking with her fellow patients, Bly was convinced that some were as sane as she was. She witnessed staff berating and hitting patients, the serving of inedible food and dirty drinking water, dangerous patients being tied together with ropes, and an infestation of rats.

After ten days, Bly left and her book caused a sensation, as well as leading to a grand jury investigation and financial increase in the Department of Public Charities and Corrections.

This book has 71 pages in the PDF version, and was originally published in 1887.

Production notes: This e-book of Ten Days in a Mad-House was published by Global Grey on the 28th March 2021. The artwork used for the cover is 'The Laundress' by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

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