The Surgeon and the Lunatics

"Nineteenth century commentators on mental illness were often fascinated by the outward signs of difference between sane and insane behaviour, and the relative changes brought about in each patient’s demeanour and expression by treatment in the asylum. As Michael Whitfield finds here, these interests could be as common in the newspaper press as they were amongst surgeons".

Faces of the Asylum: The Patients of the Bristol Lunatic Asylum in the Nineteenth Century

Bristol Record Office holds a remarkable photographic archive of patients in Bristol’s nineteenth century Lunatic Asylum. In this article, Paul Tobia asks what these compelling and intimate portraits can tell us.