The Letters of a Victorian Madwoman

John S. Hughes, Editor University of South Carolina Press $24.95 (260p) ISBN 978-0-87249-840-2
This book presents a series of more than 90 letters written by an Alabama woman, Andrewsic Moore Sheffield (1850-1920), while she was incarcerated for 30 years (1890-1920) against her will in an asylum. Committed to Bryce Hospital in Tuscaloosa by her family after she set fire to the home of a neighbor feuding with Sheffield's doctor lover (who supplied her with opiates), Sheffield wrote many letters to politicians and doctors in an unsuccessful struggle to obtain her freedom from the asylum. Her letters, which are frequently angry, are also rational and perceptive, and expose her ill treatment. A thoughtful introduction and commentary by historian Hughes ( In the Law's Darkness: Isaac Ray and the Medical Jurisprudence of Insanity in Nineteenth Century America ) provides historical context. The book is an important primary source for scholars. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/02/1992
Release date: 11/01/1992
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