Sir William’s Last Stand: Poetry and Insanity in England, 1837–1842

  • Joseph Crawford
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Literature, Science and Medicine book series (PLSM)


This chapter deals with the years 1837 to 1842, which saw the rise of the British asylum system, and of the new medical psychology which supported it. For most of this period, both Alfred Tennyson and John Clare were residents of the village of High Beach—the former as a friend and business associate of the local asylum-keeper, Matthew Allen, and the latter as one of his patients—and their writings on poetry and madness are discussed in light of their respective relationships with the burgeoning asylum system. Finally, it considers the bizarre case of John Tom, who was released from Kent County Lunatic Asylum in 1837 and went on to lead a doomed uprising against the government in 1838, claiming to be Jesus Christ reborn.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joseph Crawford
    • 1
  1. 1.University of ExeterExeterUK

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