Cover image for Ten days in a mad house
Ten days in a mad house
Physical Description:
79 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm.
Corporate Subject:
In 1887, reporter Nellie Bly was admitted to the Blackwell's Island Lunatic Asylum in order to do undercover reporting on the conditions there, as part of the assignment given to her by Joseph Pulitzer at the New York World. The resulting reports were published later that year in a book, Ten Days in a Mad-house, and influenced substantial changes, followed by the closure of the asylum.


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book 362.23 BLY 0 1
Book 362.23 BLY 0 1

On Order



Ten Days in a Mad-House, describing New York City's most notorious mental institution, were written by journalist Nellie Bly in 1887. It was no mere armchair observation, because Bly got herself committed to Blackwell's and wrote a shocking exposé called Ten Days In A Madhouse. The series of articles became a best-selling book, launching Bly's career as a world-famous investigative reporter and also helping bring reform to the asylum.

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

Before there was pack journalism, cable news, and fake news, there were reporters such as Nellie Bly, who went undercover to expose social ills. Born Elizabeth Cochran, she moved to New York City in 1887, and writing for the New York World, she agreed to feign insanity to be committed to the city-run asylum on Blackwell's Island (now Roosevelt Island). In her fast-moving account, Bly checks into a boarding house, where her odd behavior inspires the management to call in the police. From there it's a quick boat trip to the asylum, where treatment at the hands of nurses, indifferent doctors, and administrators-ice-cold baths in dirty water, rancid food, dirty linen, and clothing insufficient to ward off the cold-are absolutely sadistic. Freed by a lawyer sent by her employer, Bly wrote her account first for the newspaper and then as a book. Rebecca Gibbel's narration is filled with tension and fervor, causing the listener some anxiety and distress over the treatment of women who were only ill, foreign, or impoverished. VERDICT This work could find a passionate following among students of the history of New York, journalism, women, and psychiatry.-Anne M. Condon, West Hartford, CT © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.