An International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award Nominee
A Toronto Globe and Mail Best Book of the Year
Conspiracies, plots, and paranoia are sweeping through London in the last days of the eighteenth century, and James Tilly Matthews has been caught under false pretenses and locked up in the city's vast, crumbling asylum. As his wife, Margaret, tries desperately to free him, political forces conspire to hold him prisoner. Margaret's adversary is John Haslam, the asylum's chief apothecary, a man torn between his conscience and the lure of scientific discovery: as James, in his plight, grows more famous—and more unhinged—he also becomes a valuable specimen for the young doctor and a pawn in a grand political conspiracy. Based on the experiences of real individuals and real events in the history of psychiatry and medical ethics, Bedlam evokes a city teetering between darkness and light. It is a moving study of every kind of madness.