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Nicely Researched and Engaging Exploration on Life in a Victorian Asylum
on 11 September 2011
Mark Stevens delivers a relatively well-written and researched exploration of life in Broadmoor in late-Victorian England. This book offers an insight into daily life inside the asylum and of the patients, inmates, and professionals for whom Broadmoor became such an important part of their lives. Common perceptions of the asylum system are often influenced by narrow and prescriptive interpretations of 'lunacy' and its 'treatments' during this period, and this text offers a more objective interpretation of events, whilst at the same time giving some 'flesh' to the personalities at work. The book is written in a sympathetic manner, devoid of sensationalism and overt subjectivity. There are some minor typos, and I did feel that the chapter on escape attempts was overlong; I would have preferred further insight into routines and institutional hierarchies, and perhaps further examination of some more of Broadmoor's inmates. However, this was an informative piece of good research, which was accessible and educational.