Book review: Proper People: Early Asylum Life in the Words of Those Who Were There (First edition)

Visiting teaching fellow Liam Clarke reviews Proper People: Early Asylum Life in the Worlds of Those Who were There by David Scrimgeour

Proper People: Early Asylum Life in the Words of Those Who Were There (First edition)

David Scrimgeour

York Publishing Services

£14.99 | 480pp

ISBN 978099371509

This text is essential reading for anyone interested in the history of psychiatric care. Told via extant written accounts of patient’s experiences, it covers the period 1818 to 1869, taking us through the biographies of mentally ill patients in Yorkshire’s West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum in Wakefield.

By means of an exhaustive survey of myriad sources – case files, chaplain’s journals and discharge books, not to mention council archives and medical museums – the narrative takes us deeply into the world of the hospitalised 19th Century patient and those who attended them.

Pages 149-152 tell of Mary Tinker, a 37-year-old housewife admitted in 1843: ‘wild, rude and unceremonious’, she


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