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Manchester Meeting (online) – Alice Petschler

Tuesday 2 March, 2021, 10:30 am - 12:00 pm

We’re delighted to welcome the historian, biographer and retired teacher, Joanna Williams to our March meeting, where she’ll talk about Alice Petschler (1830-1897).  

Alice Petschler was the photographer, poet and “lunatic” whose case helped to lead changes in the law on how the mentally ill were committed. Most accounts of pauper asylums are from the viewpoint of the medical staff, but Petschler, an educated woman, was far from a typical ‘pauper lunatic’.  Carried off by night under false pretences, she refused to accept without a fight her forcible incarceration for ten months in Macclesfield Asylum.  When released, she pursued those who had put her there in court, through the press, and in inquiries.  She also raised questions about how “lunatics” were treated by ill-trained and resentful staff.  Her story stirred society into considerable agitation, and eventually helped to revise the laws which regulated the whole system. It tells us much about attitudes to mental illness, gender and class in mid-Victorian Britain.

The talk will take place over Zoom. Members will receive an email invitation nearer the time. If you’re not a member and would like to join us, please contact us.