At the age of 23, pioneering reporter Nellie Bly faked dementia in order to expose abuses of patients in Blackwell’s Island Insane Asylum in New York City. Such investigative journalism was unusual in 1887 — almost as rare as women reporters. Bly’s subsequent articles created a sensation, exposing the rampant psychological and physical mistreatment of inmates, many of whom were not mentally ill but simply recent immigrants and other impoverished individuals without social support. Her accounts led directly to significant increases in funding and improvements in asylum management.
Born Elizabeth Jane Cochran, Nellie Bly (1864–1922) reported on inequalities women faced in the workplace and in the legal system, and she served as a foreign correspondent in Mexico. Two years after her undercover work at Blackwell’s Island Asylum, Bly circled the globe to test the feasibility of Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days — and beat the fictional record by eight days. This new edition of her groundbreaking reports from the asylum features 17 period illustrations from the original publication.