The History of Bethlem
Routledge – 1997 – 768 pages
Bethlem Hospital, popularly known as "Bedlam", is a unique institution. Now seven hundred and fifty years old, it has been continuously involved in the care of the mentally ill in London since at least the 1400s. As such it has a strong claim to be the oldest foundation in Europe with an unbroken history of sheltering and treating the mentally disturbed. During this time, Bethlem has transcended locality to become not only a national and international institution, but in many ways, a cultural and literary myth.
The History of Bethlem is a scholarly history of this key establishment by distinguished authors, including Asa Briggs and Roy Porter. Based upon extensive research of the hospital's archives, the book looks at Bethlem's role within the caring institutions of London and Britain, and provides a long overdue re-evaluation of its place in the history of psychiatry.
'There are five Authors here, all distinguished in their field, and they have joined forces to produce a magnificent book, well laid out and documented. Its main function is to set the record straight and in this the authors have suceeeded fully' - - John Clay, Literary Review