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The Suffering of Women who Didn't Fit. 'Madness' in Britain 1450-1950





For over 500 years, women have suffered claims of mental decay solely on account of their gender. Frigid, insane, not quite there, a witch in sheep's clothing, labels that have cast her as the fragile species and destroyer of Man.

This book reveals attitudes, ideas and responses on what was to be done with 'mad women' in Britain.

Journey back into the unenlightened Middle Ages to find demonic possession, turbulent humours and the wandering womb. In the Puritan Age, when the mad were called witches and scolds ducked for their nagging. The age of Austen and a sense and sensibility created from her fragile nerves. Then descend into Victorian horrors of wrongful confinement and merciless surgeons, before arriving, just half a century past, to the Viennese couch and an obligation to talk.

At the heart of her suffering lay her gynaecological make-up, driving her mad every month and at every stage of her life. Terms such as menstrual madness, puerperal insanity and 'Old Maid's Insanity' poison history's pages.

An inescapable truth is now shared: that so much, if not all, was a male creation. Though not every medic was male, nor every male a fiend, misogynist thought shaped our understanding of women, set down expectations and 'corrected' the flawed.

The book exposes the agonies of life for the 'second class' gender; from misdiagnosis to brutal oppression, seen as in league with the Devil or the volatile wretch. Touching no less than six centuries, it recalls how, for a woman, being labelled as mad was much less a risk, more her inevitable burden.


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     unique collection of real-life cases - from the internationally famous to the bizarrely obscure. Many rediscovered in Victorian annals, never featured before in a popular work…

 …the attempted assassination of an unpopular monarch; the Prince of Wales’ nurse who slaughtered six children; the woman who murdered some “400” babies; Dove and the Wizard; and many besides.

Exhaustively researched, using contemporary sources, all fully referenced, with where to read more.

An eye-opening insight into Victorian morals - revealing features that capture 19th century life: prisons, the courts, rare habits and customs - such as why did the hangman pass the doomed a white hankie, and what was it like to be hanged in a chair?!

Rare images collected from international archives - some previously unpublished some globally famous.


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    "A compendium..of information that will make you say, 'I never knew that!' Contained within is a plethora of entertaining facts about Herefordshire's famous and occasionally infamous men and women...more (© The History Press)





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    (cover art © The History Press)
    BLOODY BRITISH HISTORY SALISBURY   
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    "Read how Salisbury experienced murder, mayhem and death; recoil at sadistic monarchs and wicked barons; marvel at marauding monks and wonder at wayward nuns! Gaze woefully...more (© The History Press)


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