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Ten Days in a Mad-House
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Ten Days in a Mad-House

3.83 of 5 stars 3.83  ·  rating details  ·  1,693 ratings  ·  233 reviews
Books for All Kinds of Readers. ReadHowYouWant offers the widest selection of on-demand, accessible format editions on the market today. Our 7 different sizes of EasyRead are optimized by increasing the font size and spacing between the words and the letters. We partner with leading publishers around the globe. Our goal is to have accessible editions simultaneously release ...more
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Published April 10th 2009 by ReadHowYouWant (first published 1887)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Christy B
I do not know where to even start with this. The fact that this was non fiction just blew my mind. I've read fiction books that take place in mad houses during the 19th century, but the fiction was more of a reality than I had originally thought.

Nellie Bly is a journalist and gets an assignment in 1887 to go undercover and spend ten days in a mad-house and report her findings. She goes about this by purchasing a room in a women's boarding house and acting peculiar. She says that all the other wo
Nellie Bly, a 20 something 19th century reporter gets herself locked in an asylum. As expected the conditions are horrible. The guards are called nurses but they’re really just keepers and cruel ones at that. The food is all but inedible and, like the Woody Allen joke, such small portions. Though the weather has turned cold it’s against asylum policy to turn the heat on, added to that is the practice of leaving the windows open and cold baths. Occasionally they are tied together with rope and al ...more
Thom Swennes
Nov 05, 2012 Thom Swennes rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
One of the unsung and relatively unknown heroines of the post Civil War era is Elizabeth Jane Cochrane (1864-1922), a writer, journalist and inventor that went under the pseudonym of Nellie Bly. In 1887, while working as a journalist at the New York World she was asked to do an undercover assignment and feign insanity to be admitted to the Woman’s Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell’s Island. She went with a mission to report the procedure of admittance, conditions and treatment of the patients sent to ...more
Sharing some of my thoughts and feelings about "Ten Days in a Made-House." - stream of consciousness form.

I did not enjoy this book. If enjoyment and light entertainment is what you're looking for then this book isn't for you, because what Bly uncovers and reveals, although not surprising to me, is horrific and makes me fume with anger and outrage.

Bly boldly describes the way women were thought of and treated by men, and about women's virtually nonexistent legal rights during the 1800s and earli
Unfortunately, not much in this account of mental patients being misdiagnosed, invalidated, ignored, neglected, and abused in the late 1800s surprised me. At the time, however, I'm sure it was shocking for people in the city to learn of the type of treatment these patients received, and Bly's account helped to improve conditions somewhat. It's kind of interesting to read while keeping in mind how much is different now and how much is the same. Conditions in hospitals are obviously better nowaday ...more
Wow. There really are no words to describe this horror. Bly presents an absolutely terrifying account of the treatment of mentally 'insane' people in the last decades of the 1800s. I think it's so amazing people like her existed back then to bring this outrage to public attention and actually bring about change. This is a very depressing read, but it ends on a positive note and it's so educational and worthwile. As for her writing style, it's not always the best. She was a journalist so it tends ...more
Marts  (Thinker)
Journalist Nellie Bly fakes insanity in order to be admitted into a mental institution to experience, first hand, the conditions there. She presents thorough details into the lives of working women and those assumed to be insane in the 1800's. Here she gives a most comprehensive view of the then conditions of such institutions, and towards the end she even appeals to authorities to make drastic improvements to such...
so i was having some plobrems with this book because, as you may or may not have seen depending on how you know me, i was complaining about black like me last week. that's a book about a white dude pretending to be a black dude in order to expose racism. this is a book about a white lady pretending to be a "crazy" white lady in order to expose the despicable conditions in which insane asylums were kept in the 1880s (and afaik that didn't really change until the '70s?). i was questioning myself w ...more
Nellie Bly, journalist, novelist, inventor, world traveler, human rights activist, feminist icon, and:

...very cute.

At the request of Joseph Pulitzer at The New York World, Nellie spent an evening in front of a mirror practicing "crazy expressions" and then voluntarily committed herself to the Women's Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell Island, in part to expose its horrors and in part to escape writing the fashion, theater, and gardening columns normally assigned to women in 1887. The writing and report
Batgrl (Not Trusting GR With My Reviews/Shelves Now)
Oddly this is hard to find in a free ebook version (granted, it's short). Gutenberg only has an audio book. You can read the text online here (contains text of madhouse plus 2 other Bly articles), thanks to the Celebration of Women Writers website at UPenn.

For some quick background, try this wikipedia page: Nellie Bly Asylum Expose
And this excellent website: Nellie Bly Online (Lots of online versions of Bly's writing there, but mainly in doc files or pdfs.)

For those who've not heard of this befo
Shannon Jewel
Very interesting non-fiction read. Nellie Bly is a journalist in 1887 New York. She goes undercover with a plan to be committed to an insane asylum and report on her 10 day stay. The treatment of the poor, unfortunate women in this book is deplorable. Having read this, I am certain that I would have never had her courage to seek and publicly uncover the truth. One thing that amazed me was the ease at which she found herself committed. When first reading of her plan, I figured there was no way sh ...more
My LibriVox book was the true story of the courageous young journalists attempt to see the underside of New York City's mental health system by becoming a patient at the infamous Blackwell's Island Lunatic Asylum. I remember one of our reading books in elementary school had a story about Nellie Bly, the fearless young woman who proved that women could be journalists too.

In this expose she pretends to be a poor crazy girl long enough to have herself committed to the charity asylum at Blackwell's
I believe Nellie Bly inspired the character Lana Winters on American Horror Story:Asylum. And, to be honest, this asylum and AHS's asylum are not very far apart at all. it's easy to believe the stories heard about asylums (a word that means "sanctuary") before 1984 are myth and legend...until, that is, you've heard first hand from an experienced and well received investigator. To be a woman in such a time was to know true fear.
I read this in just a few days but the story will be with me forever. I have an interest in mental health and this book is a snapshot of time when mental health wasn't really understood. Nellie Bly went undercover and sought out the truth of what was happening to mental patients at institutions during a time when it was common to send women away for just about anything. The story turns truly horrifying when she arrives at the island. Her determinitation and bravery began a serious look at the tr ...more
Gigglemug Book Club
Elle Tea's Review of "Ten Days in a Mad-House":

Despite being a short and fairly quick read, this is a really interesting book and one that I would recommend whole-heartedly to anyone interested in this period of history, women’s rights, psychiatric practices of the 19th century, or American history. I also think it serves best as an introductory companion to Jeffrey Geller’s Women of the Asylum: Voices from Behind the Walls, 1840 – 1945.

The summary of the book really explains it best: this is an
Angela Carrigan
Interesting information

Nellie Bly braving an insane asylum was foolhardy to do it and braver than most. Back then, it was very easy to have a person locked up. The list of reasons a person could be committed was long and it is entirely possible that women were institutionalized for little or no reason.

The horrors defined in this story are too vivid to be made up for the newspaper, plus the fact that the grand jury upheld her complaints as true prove the facts.

There is a reason that insane asyl
I downloaded Ten Days in a Mad-House out of curiosity, and thought I'd be stuck on it for days, but ended up being so fascinated by it that I finished in less than 24 hours. Investigative journalism still exists, but the focus in this was so much on Bly's experience as a personal narrative from her preparation to go to the insane asylum to her tour of it with a grand jury afterwards, rather than as a more impersonal piece, that it was really interesting to see how things had changed. The two art ...more
I am currently reading Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland's History-Making Race Around the World by Matthew Goodman which led me to this work by Bly. Without knowing anything else, this work alone explains why Bly became one of the most famous, successful female journalists of her day and why her name is linked wih intrepid journalism even today. Written in a timeless voice wih no added frills, nonsense or poetry, Bly clearly lays out the conditions of a famous madhouse. Keep in mind, ...more
Sue Jackson
I knew very little about Nellie Bly when I picked up this book and I was pleasantly surprised. The version of Ten Days in a Mad-House that I read was the illustrated version so there were childlike drawings scattered throughout the book yet the topic was clearly not childlike. This book is about one of the first female journalists and her undercover work in a mental institution. She explains how she set the stage for getting herself admitted into the facility and goes into detail about the terri ...more
Despite being a short and fairly quick read, this is a really interesting book and one that I would recommend whole-heartedly to anyone interested in this period of history, women’s rights, psychiatric practices of the 19th century, or American history. I also think it serves best as an introductory companion to Jeffrey Geller’s "Women of the Asylum: Voices from Behind the Walls, 1840 – 1945."

The summary of the book really explains it best: this is an expose of a New York asylum in the 19th cent
Nellie Bly was quite a woman. I can't imagine going undercover as a patient in what used to be referred to as an insane asylum, especially when you consider the treatment of the patients. The nurses there were sadistic -- I cannot imagine treating my worst enemy like they treated those women. Some of them were sent there just because they were from a different country and spoke a different language and had no advocate. Many of them did finally lose their mental faculties, as the way they were tr ...more
Maria Monteiro
While I was there a pretty young girl was brought in. She had been sick, and she fought against being put in that dirty place. One night the nurses took her and, after beating her, they held her naked in a cold bath, then they threw her on her bed. When morning came the girl was dead. The doctors said she died of convulsions, and that was all that was done about it.

How can I rate a book like this? It is not a work of fiction, but a real documentary on the cruelty that the mentaly insane endured.
I've known our mental health system has had a dark side. But as a nurse, I was horrified at the behavior of the monstrous women who called themselves nurses. This is not only a work spotlighting underbelly of asylums...but the ugliness of healthcare providers. I believe this was an extremely courageous work by Nellie given the time period in which she undertook this piece.
This is so very sad. I suffer from mental illness myself, and had I been born before my time, I myself, and many I know would have suffered the same treatment. I have great respect for Nellie Bly. What she did was very brave, considering it was highly possible for her to have become trapped there. I believe everything she wrote, because I have been in institutions in this day and age; and have been abused. As a child, I was smothered with a sheet until I passed out, and we were tied to those par ...more
Sairam Krishnan
This classic of investigative journalism, written years before that term was coined, is as contemporary and as important as it was when it was first published. It created an uproar that resulted in so much good happening for the 'unfortunates among us' as Nellie Bly, real name Elizabeth Jane Cochran puts it in the book.

In a riveting read, she reports honestly and with empathy, what she saw and experienced when she spent ten days in a mental asylum as a patient. The state of the afflicted and the
An interesting account of the terrible treatment of mentally ill women in asylums in the 1880's. I wish there had been a bit more detail and/or resolution. Although, as she only spent 10 days there and was a journalist (not in the government), I understand why there was not.
I was interested to check out this book because it came up in another book I was reading, Mornings on Horseback, a biography of Theodore Roosevelt. In the biography, the author mentions that Roosevelt's father dedicated much time to volunteering on Blackwell's Island and had been impacted by Bly's book/expose, motivating him to use his wealth and position of authority to help improve conditions for the mentally ill. I was curious about the conditions and to see how/why Bly's book moved him so.

This reads like a gothic horror story, but it’s a factual account of the life and times of women in New York circa 1887. We have come a long way but we still have so very far to go.
Ten Days in a Mad House was extraordinary. It was sad but all the while fulfilling. This book took me on an adventure to a place where I've wanted to visit and made me terrified of asylums. If you like horror, choking, and beating tales that are true read this and you'll never think asylums are great. It's weird how I wanted to visit one to see what it was like but this book made me take interest in something else. This book is great and it is definitely not hard to read. I recommend reading thi ...more
At first I thought this audio book should be a 4/5 but I bumped it up to a 5/5 for several reasons:

#1 reason. It is a legally free public domain audiobook plus it was a good and interesting read.

#2 The reader was excellent which is very important in the audio book world. I can imagine the reader as the actual author Nellie Bly. Here is an easy place to listen or download in mp3 or several other audio formats. or also here:
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Nellie Bly was the pen name of pioneer female journalist Elizabeth Jane Cochran. She remains notable for two feats: a record-breaking trip around the world in emulation of Jules Verne's character Phileas Fogg, and an exposé in which she faked insanity to study a mental inst
More about Nellie Bly...
Around the World in 72 Days The Complete Works of Nellie Bly: Ten Days in a Mad-House, Around the World in Seventy-Two Days Around the World in Seventy-Two Days and Other Writings Ten Days in a Mad-House; or, Nellie Bly's Experience on Blackwell's Island. Feigning Insanity in Order to Reveal Asylum Horrors Six Months in Mexico

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“I said I could and I would. And I did.” 20 likes
“It is only after one is in trouble that one realizes how little sympathy and kindness there are in the world.” 19 likes
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