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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: May ::
Re: Bedlam
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0601.  Tuesday, 27 May 1997.

[1]     From:   Julia L. Shields <
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        Date:   Monday, 26 May 97 10:21:40 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0598  Re: Bedlam

[2]     From:   Fran Teague <
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        Date:   Monday, 26 May 97 10:30:44 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0596  Qs: MM and Bedlam


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Julia L. Shields <
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Date:           Monday, 26 May 97 10:21:40 EDT
Subject: 8.0598  Re: Bedlam
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0598  Re: Bedlam

Dr. Johnson was much affected by his visit to Bedlam.

Julia Shields

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[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Fran Teague <
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 >
Date:           Monday, 26 May 97 10:30:44 EDT
Subject: 8.0596  Qs: MM and Bedlam
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0596  Qs: MM and Bedlam

Terence Hawkes asks an interesting question: how much hard evidence is
there that people went to Bedlam to watch the inmates? Edwin
O'Donoghue's _History of St. Bethlehem's Hospital_ (1914) suggests that
one reason it's hard to come by specific evidence for the seventeenth
century is that the doctor who ran the place from 1618 until the 1630s,
Dr. Hilkiah Crooke, didn't keep records as well or as carefully as his
predecessors. He was accused of mismanagement. In Robert Reed's book,
__Bedlam on the Jacobean Stage_ (1952), he says that what little
evidence there is suggests as many as 75 visitors a day at times.

But the crucial phrase in the question Terence Hawkes asks is how many
went to watch the inmates "FOR PURPOSES OF ENTERTAINMENT." Chapter 13 in
Christopher Hill's book, _The World Turned Upside Down_ points out that
in 17th C England watching madness was one way of gaining access to
prophecy. There's a very interesting discussion of the way that madness
and political radicalism intersected in the 1640s and 1650s.

Fran Teague
 

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