Sarah Wise
Inconvenient People

My third book, Inconvenient People (£9.99, Vintage), features eccentric heirs, women in white, embarrassing offspring: investigating 12 main case histories, the book asks, who were the most common victims of malicious asylum incarceration in the 19th century? As often as not, it isn’t the type of person you might imagine . . .


‘Deeply researched and gripping. . .The book owes its enormous power to Sarah Wise’s patience. She has sifted hundreds of case histories. . .It makes for harrowing reading, but much of it is also hilarious.’
A N Wilson, Mail on Sunday

‘Her ten chapters read like short novels, and she has the true social historian’s ability to make her period come alive. . . This is as interesting a work of social history as you are ever likely to read.’
Dr Anthony Daniels, The Spectator

‘Wise is a terrific researcher and storyteller. She has woven a series of case stories into a fascinating history of insanity in the 19th century.’
Kate Summerscale, Guardian Books of the Year

My interview with Claudia Hammond on BBC Radio 4’s All In The Mind about Inconvenient People can be heard here:

and with Neil Denny of Little Atoms radio here

Teaching & Recent Journalism
Photo: Michael Flegg (1957)

Ill be speaking about late-Victorian East London poverty and the child ‘rescue work of Annie Macpherson at Wilfred Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, on Friday 22 April.

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:
* The London ‘Low-Life’ Novel, 1889-1907

Authors include Joseph Conrad, Arthur Morrison, Clarence Rook and Margaret Harkness. Bishopsgate Institute, London EC2

* Apocalypse London: The City in Dystopian Fiction
Texts include 1984, The War of the Worlds, The Day of the Triffids, Quatermass & The Pit. Bishopsgate Institute, London EC2.

* Madness & 19th-Century Fiction
Including The Yellow Wallpaper, Jane Eyre, The Fall of the House of Usher and The Woman in White. Bishopsgate Institute, London EC2.

Ive recently written on how London is depicted in Orwells 1984 on the London Fictions site

My blog on Psychology Today

I’ve been posting on 19th-century mental health history here:

My latest piece is about whether the Victorian asylum allowed the wealthy to evade justice

Other 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’.