Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Dracula for Doctors, by Fiona Subotsky

This fascinating new book on the medical context of Bram Stoker's 1897 novel Dracula is by Fiona Subotsky - a retired professor of psychiatry and the widow of Milton Subotsky, producer of the Amicus horror films. I've just submitted a review so shall not detail my thoughts on it here, but here's a note to self for something to look into:
"In 1871 [Henry Maudsley] admitted to Lawn House, his small private asylum, a woman called Louisa Lowe whose spiritualistic conversion had led her to 'Passive Writing' in order to communicate with a spirit. Her clergyman spouse was far from keen to have her released, and Maudsley seems to have colluded with this - partly on the grounds that she was threatening to divorce her husband. The latter, however, overplayed his hand and attempted to get hold of his wife's money through a Chancery suit. Maudsley, possibly to avoid the necessary legal review, had Mrs Lowe removed to a different asylum, from which she was very shortly released." (Dracula for Doctors, p. 154)
She then attempted to sue the Lunacy Commission and when that failed became active in the Lunacy Law Reform Association, in 1877 getting Maudsley and others involved in her case questioned by a Select Committee. Louisa then helped Mrs Georgina Weldon escape from an asylum and, in 1884, successfully sued the doctor who'd incarcerated her.

This, and accounts of Louisa's shocking treatment in the asylum itself, are apparently detailed in her book The Bastilles of England (1883).

No comments: