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Ten Days in a Mad-House

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  13,660 ratings  ·  1,585 reviews
In 1887, 23-year-old reporter Nellie Bly had herself committed to a New York City asylum for 10 days to expose the horrific conditions for 19th-century century mental patients.
92 pages
Published 1887 by Norman L. Munro
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Petra X's driving in a Mustang GT to Key West
If you read this book without knowing anything of Nellie Bly except that she was a journalist, you might think it was a wonderful expose of the absolute horrors of bedlam in New York.

You might doubt whether really the food was so bad that apart from a crust or two and a bowl of cold tea, it was totally inedible - the bread had spiders baked into it. You might wonder if the nurses were all nasty, brutish and extremely violent. Question if the doctors were either having public affairs with their
This was a very disturbing read for me. Mental health is an illness and this book showed how horribly patients were being treated at the Women's Lunatic Asylum in 1887. It brought back the horrible images of how, in the 70's, Geraldo Rivera blew the whistle on Willowbrook State School in Staten Island where the same horrific treatment of patients was happening.

This small book is not for the faint of heart.
Jan 20, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 Stars

Ten Days in a Mad-House is a book by newspaper reporter Nellie Bly. Nellie took the terrifying task of posing as Nellie Borwn in an undercover assisment to investigate the deplorable conditions of insane asylums. While on the assignment she feigned insanity at a women's boarding house and was involuntarily committed to the Women's Lunatic Alylum on Blackwell's Island.

Ten Days in a Mad House is a quick and insightful read into the way the mentally ill were treated or should I say mist
Mar 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ten Days in a Mad-house, hat's off to you, Nellie Bly. My new hero. 
For the sake of a story, she faked insanity and she got herself admitted into an insane asylum then wrote an exposé on the Blackwell's Island women's asylum in New York. Not knowing how, or if, she or anybody else would be able to get her out. And all this before women even had the right to vote. Blows my mind. Girls got guts. 
The story was published in a series of articles for Joseph Pulitzer's New York City Newspaper The Wo
Aug 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an extraordinary account. Nellie Bly was a force to be reckoned with as a reporter and as a person. She allowed herself to be institutionalized in a notorious insane asylum in New York to do an investigation on how the mentally ill women were treated there. Her article of that experience was written in 1887.
She also did reports on Employment Agencies for women and the treatment of female factory workers in New York. Two of these articles were included at the end of Ten Days in a Madhous
Alex ☣ Deranged KittyCat ☣
Ten Days in a Mad-House is one amazing book! I love it. The fact that it's a real story makes it even more interesting.

Nellie Bly is a journalist who is asked to go undercover as a patient in an asylum and write about it. She does and it's amazing how easily she is declared insane. The examination mainly consists in a brief physical checkup (what's that all about looking at the tongue?) and a few questions focused on whether or not she is a kept woman.

She is finally shipped to the Women's Lunat
Valerity (Val)
Sep 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: non=fiction readers
For its time, its quite a story and the reporter took quite a little risk when she got herself tossed into an asylum back in those days, depending on acquaintances to get her back out when the time came. I'm not sure I'd be quite so trusting, under those circumstances. She found quite a story behind the walls, and what she wrote made quite a stir when she got out. ...more
Well, Nellie Bly, you have my utmost respect. What an inspirational human being. Someone that would purposely get themselves admitted into an asylum for the insane, in order to potentially uncover the inhumane treatment of the women there, has to be one amazing and passionate individual. She did this not knowing whether she'd actually be able to get out again, and, even before women received the right to vote. I've been knocked off my feet here. Just wow.

What is contained in this book is compell
Dee Arr
Dec 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
There are a number of publishers offering this book and, of the few I have seen, I found this publication to be more enjoyable.

In any of the publications, readers will find the main story of how journalist Elizabeth Cochran Seaman (pen name Nellie Bly) posed as an insane person in order to gain entry into Bellevue hospital on Blackwell's Island. This is a revealing look not only into how people were institutionalized 130 years ago, but also the lack of knowledge of medical doctors at that time.
"I always had a desire to know asylum life more thoroughly - a desire to be convinced that the most helpless of God's creatures, the insane, were cared for kindly and properly."

New York World journalist Elizabeth Cochran Seaman, aka Nellie Bly, goes undercover as "demented" Nellie Brown with a mission to investigate Blackwell's Island Insane Asylum.

Nellie Bly uncovers flaws before, during, and beyond the asylum. From admission to release, I felt frustrated and never relieved (if that's n
First of all, I tried to imagine what kind of courage it took for Nellie Bly to allow herself to be committed to this kind of horrible institution from which there were no avenues of escape. I would have been too frightened of the possibility of being left there indefinitely to accept this assignment!

The writing is very straight forward and the experiences are detailed in a way that makes it ring with truth. It seems that the most cruel of people were employed in insane asylums at this time and
Nov 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was amazing and horrifying. In 1887 Nellie Bly faked insanity and spent 10 days in an insane asylum so she could report on the conditions. The conditions were horrendous at best. There were beatings, cold baths in the same water as all the other "prisoners', inedible food, extreme cold conditions and the list goes on and on. Due to her bravery and reporting skills she was able to improve conditions and get more money allocated to treatment of the insane then ever had before. ...more
Sep 05, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, 2019, non-fiction
This started out so strong and then ended pretty weak.

Nellie Bly gets herself committed to an insane asylum to report on the experience. She states her intentions at the very beginning of the book, taking time to set up the reader for what we are about to embark on. I was intrigued, I was eager to dive in and see what happened and if she made it out.

She spends a lot of the book focusing on getting in, which barely constitutes an exam. Once in, she easily gets by all the staff and the other pati
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
Jun 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
Nellie Bly was the world's first stunt journalist. She traveled around the world in 72 days to beat Phineas Fogg, she documented the conditions of women factory workers, and she faked insanity to get committed to the notorious Blackwell Island. This is her expose of the conditions there.

You too can practice insanity at home!

It's a great read: brisk, engaging, convincing. She describes with authority and empathy the freezing, starving, beating, choking and waterboarding of the poor women interred
Linda Strong
Dec 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2017
Ten Days in A Mad-House, Was Written By Nellie Bly in 1887, after she lived, undercover, at a women's insane asylum at Blackwell's Island in 1887 for ten days. This was an assignment given to her by Joseph Pulitzer.

It is so hard to read this account in 2017 ... 130 years after Nellie Bly's report of her 10 days uncover playing the part of an insane woman. At that time there were 1600 women imprisoned.. some of them for nothing more than not being able to speak English, some were there at the beh
11811 (Eleven)
This was excellent. A journalist fakes insanity in order to gain admittance to an insane asylum in 1887. She sees some bad shit. She reports it. A number of reforms are introduced as a result of the bad shit she reports. I can't believe I hadn't heard of this until now.

I listened to the audiobook which was only a couple hours long and the narration was outstanding. Highly recommended.

I was provided this audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator in exchange for an unbiased r
Jan 17, 2016 rated it liked it
Nellie Bly was a reporter in New York who convinced the courts that she was insane and got herself locked away at Blackwell's Island. Her expose of the conditions there led to increased care and resources given to the patients. What really shocked me about this piece was not the terrible treatment the patients endured, but how easily, and on what tenuous grounds, women were declared insane. ...more
A non-fiction story by Nellie Bly (or as she calls herself in the book Nellie Brown), a reporter in the late 1880s that faked insanity in order to get committed to an asylum in Blackwell Island or as currently called Roosevelt Island in New York City.

Roosevelt Island is a very small island which mainly had hospitals where they would send patients and "the insane" who needed be isolated from the rest of the city.


"And then, once in, what would be my experience? And after? How to get out? Bah!
♥ Sandi ❣
3.5 stars.

Nellie Bly, the most renown female journalist of her time, went undercover, spending 10 days in an insane asylum, Blackwell's Island, just off New York City. She willingly got herself committed, to experience first hand research, for one of her first articles at the World News. Her 10 days were so horrific that she not only wrote this book on her experiences, but was also able to make major changes to the health care system.

This book is the first hand account of Nellie's heroic stay
Chandra Claypool (WhereTheReaderGrows)
A couple of years ago I did a haunted walking tour in my neighborhood and the person in charge talked about this story. I was immediately intrigued and when I got home, got online and ordered the book. It proceeded to sit on my shelves and was forgotten for quite some time. Then late last year, I read The Address by Fiona Barton and lo and behold, Nellie Bly was mentioned and remembered I had this story to read... and finally I did!

Nellie Bly went undercover in an insane asylum.... with no real
Oct 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Nellie Bly was a trailblazing reporter around the turn of the century (19th-20th). She recounts her time spent in a mental institution, or "lunatic asylum" as they were called in those days. Bly details how she had to act "insane" so that the authorities would send her to Blackwell's Island. Further, she recounts the conditions that the women had to endure once committed.
It's chilling in its details especially when you know that they would never be free again. Many of the women were not "crazy"
Shirley (stampartiste)
Jul 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
What a brave and daring job of investigative reporting Nellie Bly (pen name of Elizabeth Jane Cochran) undertook in 1887 to investigate reports of brutality and neglect at the Women's Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell's Island in New York City! To think this type of medical "science" was going on in the middle of one of the world's largest cities in an age of supposed "enlightenment". The sad truth is that the treatment of disturbed individuals didn't really improve for almost another century. But tha ...more
Mar 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-to-screen
Very interesting. Wish it were longer.
Dec 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
Nellie 'The Most Interesting Woman in The World' Bly was asked to get herself sectioned for the sake of investigative journalism. The utter Madlass does and describes how 1880s mental health care was absolutely sodding dreadful, as I expected, but how much so still managed to leave me surprised.

To begin, Bly has to get herself declared insane. She could have asked a doctor friend to sign her off to the authorities but, not wanting to incrimate anyone else, Bly instead reinvents herself as a lone

"Positively demented," he said. "I consider it a hopeless case. She needs to be put where some one will take care of her."

"Are you crazy?" I asked.

"No," she replied; "but as we have been sent here we will have to be quiet until we find some means of escape."

"Miss Grupe proved to be one of those people who are ashamed of their nationality, and she refused, saying she could understand but few worlds of her mother tongue."

"A German girl, Louise–I have forgotten her last name–did not eat for
Dannii Elle
Nellie Bly is an investigative journalist and an extraordinary lady, who faked her own mental ill-health and was institutionalised for ten days. This allowed her a behind-the-scenes analysis of the state of bedlam during the late 19th century and to publish this account of her time there.

The tone was straight-forward and almost conversational throughout and whilst I hold an immense amount of respect for Bly and the trauma she went through, this did read a little unemotionally because of that. I
Perry Whitford
Aug 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a brave woman!

In 1887 desperate for work journalist Nellie Bly, real name Elizabeth Jane Cochran, agreed to feign madness and spend ten days in Blackwell's Island Insane Asylum, exposing the atrocious conditions that then existed in such institutions.

She fooled all the doctors easily merely by acting scared and confused, claiming to be from Cuba and wittering on about some imaginary lost luggage. She swiftly discovered that 'no doctor could tell whether people were insane or not, so long as
Nov 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was eye opening. The way people were treated in asylums was horrible and Nellie Bly's article helped get more money for better food and things for Blackwell's Island Asylum. ...more
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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 (Bly completed the trip in seventy-two days), and an exposé in w

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