‘I AM NOT VERY WELL I FEEL NEARLY MAD WHEN I THINK OF YOU’: MALE JEALOUSY, MURDER AND BROADMOOR IN LATE-VICTORIAN BRITAIN
This article compares the representations of jealousy in popular culture, medical and legal literature, and in the trials and diagnoses of men who murdered or attempted to murder their wives or sweethearts before being found insane and committed into Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum between 1864 and 1900. It is shown that jealousy was entrenched in Victorian culture, but marginalised in medical and legal discourse and in the courtroom until the end of the period, and was seemingly cast aside at Broadmoor. As well as providing a detailed examination of varied representations of male jealousy in late-Victorian Britain, the article contributes to understandings of the emotional lives of the working class, and the causes and representations of working-class male madness.
‘I AM VERY GLAD AND CHEERED WHEN I HEAR THE FLUTE’: THE TREATMENT OF CRIMINAL LUNATICS IN LATE VICTORIAN BROADMOOR
Through an examination of previously unseen archival records, including patients’ letters, this article examines the treatment and experiences of patients in late Victorian Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum and stakes the place of this institution within the broader history of therapeutic regimes in British asylums. Two main arguments are put forth. The first relates to the evolution of treatment in Victorian asylums. Historians tend to agree that in the 1860s and 1870s ‘psychiatric pessimism’ took hold, as the optimism that had accompanied the growth of moral treatment, along with its promise of a cure for insanity, abated. It has hitherto been taken for granted that all asylums reflected this change. I question this assumption by showing that Broadmoor did not sit neatly within this framework. Rather, the continued emphasis on work, leisure and kindness privileged at this institution into the late Victorian period was often welcomed positively by patients and physicians alike. Second, I show that, in Broadmoor’s case, moral treatment was determined not so much by the distinction between the sexes as the two different classes of patients – Queen’s pleasure patients and insane convicts – in the asylum. This distinction between patients not only led to different modes of treatment within Broadmoor, but had an impact on patients’ asylum experiences. The privileged access to patients’ letters that the Broadmoor records provide not only offers a new perspective on the evolution of treatment in Victorian asylums, but also reveals the rarely accessible views of asylum patients and their families on asylum care.
‘ONE OF THE BEST FATHERS UNTIL HE WENT OUT OF HIS MIND’: PATERNAL CHILD-MURDER, 1864-1900
Current scholarship suggests that when a mother murdered her child in Victorian England she was treated sympathetically by the press and in the courtroom. It is argued that because the crime was considered antithetical to womanhood it was viewed as an indication of insanity. This article examines newspaper reports, trial transcripts, medical literature and popular works on fatherhood, in order to explore the cases of sixty men committed to Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum between 1864 and 1900 for the murder of their children. It questions two assumptions of the literature on infanticide: first, the idea that it was only women who were thought to be going against nature if they killed their child; and second, that it was only women who regularly successfully pleaded insanity in such cases. The Broadmoor case studies not only demonstrate Victorian attitudes towards paternal child-murder but also provide valuable material illustrating affectionate models of Victorian fatherhood. In trial and press reports detailing the crimes it is clear that fathers were expected, and expected themselves, to be temperate, provide for, and protect their children.
FEIGNING INSANITY IN LATE-VICTORIAN BRITAIN
Feigned insanity has been ‘impressed upon the popular imagination from the earliest of times’, from the days of Ulysses and of King David. William Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Edgar, the latter from King Lear, feigned insanity so perfectly we ‘forget they are feigned’. Prior to the mid nineteenth century, discussions of feigned insanity tended to take place within broader discussions of malingering to avoid military service. As the nineteenth century progressed, alienists, or psychiatrists, felt it increasingly necessary to study the features of feigned insanity, and particularly convicts who feigned madness in order to escape punishment, with the aim of gaining admission into an asylum. Despite a wealth of scholarship on the history of psychiatry, prisons and criminals, historians have paid surprisingly little attention to how feigned insanity was understood and detected by British alienists, prison medical officers (PMOs) and asylum superintendents, or why convicts feigned insanity. Utilizing the published works of alienists, PMOs and asylum superintendents, alongside the case files of convicts transferred from prison to Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum in the late-Victorian period, this project does two things. First, it examines how Victorian medical men conceptualised feigned insanity, and shows how discussions of feigned madness related to broader concerns regarding the recidivist (also known as the habitual criminal or repeat offender). Second, it examines why convicts feigned madness, and the extent to which this corresponded to broader medical understandings of malingering.