Bedlam A Novel of Love and Madness

Greg Hollingshead




Trade Paperback

400 Pages


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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.


Praise for Bedlam

"Superbly disturbing . . . a profoundly moving examination of both mental and political lunacy."—The Boston Globe

"Bedlam has no end of gorgeous writing . . . elegant, heartfelt . . . filled with rewarding descriptions of a bygone era."—The New York Times Book Review

"Stylishly written, full of dazzling, epigrammatic insights . . . An intellectual novel, but also a moving story about fully fleshed human beings."—The Globe and Mail (Toronto)

"A vivid picture of the grotesque patients and sadistic staff of the 'English Bastille' adds density to the gallows humor that peppers this brutal story."—Publishers Weekly

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Greg Hollingshead

  • Greg Hollingshead is the author of The Roaring Girl, which won the Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction, and The Healer, which won the Writers' Trust Fiction Prize and was a finalist for the Giller Prize. He is professor emeritus at the University of Alberta and director of writing programs at the Banff Centre.

  • Greg Hollingshead Tara Nicholson