Sarah Wise
‘A haunting blend of scholarship and period empathy:’ Iain Sinclair, Daily Telegraph

‘The least smug and self-congratulatory book ever written on 19th-century slum life:’ Matthew Sweet, Sunday Times

Winner of the Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction

Shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction

Hear my talk at the Museum of London here
  ‘This is a book about the nature of London itself:’ Peter Ackroyd, The Times

‘A brilliant social history:’ Robert Peston, Daily Telegraph

‘This engrossing work shines a light not only on a turbulent period of London’s history but on humanity itself. Only the best histories can claim as much:’ Clare Clark, The Guardian

Shortlisted for the Royal Society of Literature’s Ondaatje Prize

Hear my interview with BBC History Magazine here
  ‘Deeply researched and gripping...Much of it is also hilarious:’ AN Wilson, Mail on Sunday

‘She has the true social historian’s ability to make her period come alive:’ Dr Anthony Daniels, The Spectator

Shortlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize

Hear my interview on BBC Radio
’s All In The Mind here

and on Little Atoms radio here

You can find me on Twitter here @MissSarahWise


I’ll be speaking at the Radical Histories conference at Queen Mary University of London, which runs from 30 June to 3 July 2016, organised by the Raphael Samuel History Centre.
Full programme here


The lovely Rachel Lichtenstein and I are teaching at the Arvon Foundation, 22-27 August 2016. Our course is called Unlocking The Archives to Write the People’s History. Find out more at

I teach a number of history and literature modules at the Bishopsgate Institute, London EC2:
● The London ‘Low-Life’ Novel, 1889-1907. Authors include Joseph Conrad, Arthur Morrison, Clarence Rook and Margaret Harkness.

● Apocalypse London: The City in Dystopian Fiction. Texts include 1984, The War of the Worlds, The Day of the Triffids and Quatermass and the Pit.

Madness & 19th-Century Fiction. Including The Yellow Wallpaper, Jane Eyre, The Fall of the House of Usher and The Woman in White.

Recent Journalism

● I’ve written on the London Fictions site about Orwell’s depiction of London in 1984

● My latest post on the Psychology Today site is about whether the Victorian asylum allowed the wealthy to evade justice

Other Psychology Today posts consider the earliest days of Broadmoor Hospital/Asylum for the Criminally Insane;
Charlotte Bronte and Bertha Mason;
Victorian wives who had sane husbands certified as lunatics;
Wilkie Collins’s novel The Woman in White (1860);
the UK’s past and current mistreatment of the mentally ill;
how religious enthusiasm could lead to an accusation of lunacy;
and the Victorian diagnosis ‘monomania’.