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Idiots

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Authors Charles Dickens
W[illiam] H[enry] Wills
Genres Prose: Leading Article i
Prose: Report i
Subjects Medical care; Nursing; Hospitals; Hospital Care; Surgery; Medicine; Physicians
People with Disabilities; Human Body—Social Aspects; Human Bodies in Literature
Psychology; Psychiatry; Mental Health; Mind-Body Relations (Metaphysics)
Details
Index
Other Details
Printed : 4/6/1853
Journal : Household Words
Volume : Volume VII
Magazine : No. 167
Office Book Notes
Memo-
Columns9
Payment-
Views : 628

Dickens probably wrote the following portions of 'Idiots': the opening paragraph; from 'To this establishment' (p. 316) to the conclusion.
In addition, Dickens seems to have added touches elsewhere - for example, the interjection beginning '- whose name has a peculiar attraction' (p. 314). For a discussion of the Dickens-Wills attributions, see note to 'Valentine's Day at the Post-Office'.
'Idiots' grew out of a visit to Park House Asylum, Highgate. Park House and its sister institution, Essex Hall Asylum, near Colchester, were closely associated with Dickens' friend, Dr. John Conolly (1794-1866), a pioneer in the humane treatment of the insane. Dickens and Wills planned the visit and the article with a view to helping these new institutions. In an unpublished letter to Wills (14 April 1853), now in the Huntington Library, Dickens discussed with Wills the arrangements then being concluded with Conolly for visits to Highgate and Colchester. The plan was to tour Highgate (probably on 21 April) and to decide on the basis of that visit whether it would be advisable to tour Colchester as well. Apparently the latter visit was not deemed necessary.
The treatment of the insane, like the treatment of the blind, the deaf, the poor, the sick, and the criminal, always interested Dickens. He often visited insane asylums, and his writings - from Nicholas Nickleby (1838-1839) to Little Dorrit (1855-1857), and from American Notes (1842) to All the Year Round (1859-1870) - attest to his lifelong interest in the nature and treatment of insanity. For another article by Dickens and Wills on an institution for the mentally ill, see 'A Curious Dance Round a Curious Tree'.

Harry Stone; © Bloomington and Indiana University Press, 1968. DJO gratefully acknowledges permission to reproduce this material.

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