July 6th, 2011

Victorian lunatic asylums

This is for a Sherlock Holmes AU; it is a clockpunk AU and so there is an element of fantasy so I have a bit of room just to make things up, but I still want to do more research into one real world element especially.  So I don't have a specific question about one particular thing as such but I wondered if anyone knows of any detailed online sources or preferably any decent books (ideally those still in print or available cheaply secondhand - I don't really have library access and can't spend huge amounts) about  late Victorian (around 1880 onwards) British insane asylums - that is non-fiction and ones that give a general but fairly detailed picture about such places - the behaviour of the doctors, treatments, etc (and ones that aren't just about the treatment of the poor or of women, which seem to be more commonly addressed but aren't really relevant to my story).

I've searched a lot of things (Victorian asylums; also some of the history of psychiatric treatments and specific hospitals including the Bethlem Royal, and on VictorianLondon.org as well as generally on Google and Wikipedia) and I've found quite a lot of basic information (also that some of these places do have their own archives, but that I can't get to them) but what I really need is more detailed information which I think I may not find online. Also I've had a quick look on Amazon for books on this topic but then I can't really tell what's good and what isn't and don't want to be spending money on ones that are just basic/only focus on women (for example)/are too 'sensational'/just talk mostly about the buildings themselves, or whatever. (I have been recommended 2 books elsewhere but one of them, Mental Disability in Victorian England, is £70+ and thus completely out of my budget; the other is Bedlam: London and Its Mad which I have ordered.)