Mental Illness and the Victorians – the Case of Alice Hadfield Petschler

posted in: History, talks | 0

In March 2021, we were delighted to welcome the historian, biographer and retired teacher, Joanna Williams.  

Alice  Hadfield Petschler (1830-1897)  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…..

Joanna is introduced by Pam Griffiths, secretary of the Gaskell Society.