September 22, 1887. Nellie Bly looks at her editor from the New York World with piercing eyes. “How do you plan to get me out, once I’m in there?” “I don’t know … we’ll have to prove that you are not insane at all.” I was little confident I could mislead the doctors of the metal institution, let alone that they would let me leave … and my editor clearly didn’t have much more confidence than me.
Nellie Bly is the pseudonym of the groundbreaking American journalist Elizabeth Jane Cochrane. As a writer, Bly liked to make a stand for female workers, but under editorial pressure she was repeatedly redirected to the “women’s pages”. So, Nellie took matters into her own hands and left for Mexico to work as a foreign correspondent. In 1887, Bly moved to New York, where she applied for Joseph Pulitzers’ newspaper, the New York World. For an undercover assignment, she vexed insanity so that she would be locked up in Women’s Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell’s Island, where rumors reported the most brutal misconducts. Nelly managed to escape the mental institution after ten horrible days. In her world-famous ‘Ten days in a mad house’, she wrote about the cruelty and neglect she had seen in the psychiatric hospital. Will you be able to escape from this god-forgotten place, or will you remain locked up for the rest of your lives… like so many others?