"Behind Asylum Bars" and "Inside the Madhouse" - Nellie Bly - New York World

Headline and highlights of Nellie Bly's article "Behind Asylum Bars," written for The New York World in 1887.

Media History

The reporting was intended for these media types: Magazine, Newspaper, Book, Television

"In and About the City: A Mysterious Waif" - Unsigned - New York Times

Bellevue Shelters a Girl of Whom Nothing Is Known


"An unknown girl, Nellie Mareno, or Brown -- she gave both names -- was sent to Bellevue Hospital Saturday for examination with regard to her sanity. Yesterday afternoon she lay shivering on a cot in the pavillion, and drew the bed clothing tightly about her neck as she turned to look at a visitor. She does not appear to be over 19 years old, the age entered on the hospital record and gives evidence both in speech and manner of good breeding. Her features are regular and comely, the eyes being large and dark, the forehead broad and low, the nose straight, the moth and chin well shaped and the hair dark brown. As far as could be judged under the circumstances she is below the medium height and decidedly slight. Her face was almost haggard in its paleness, and there was a wild, hunted look in her eyes. . . . "

"Still a Mystery: Nellie Mareno's Friends as Silent as She Was Herself" - Unsigned - New York Times


"Nellie Mareno, the girl whom Judge Duffy on Nov. 26 sent to the insane asylum on Blackwell's Island, has been restored to her friends in an improved mental condition. The case was such a peculiar one that it attracted extraordinary interest. The girl, who was only 19 years old, and an attractive and refined person, applied for lodging at the Temporary Home for Women on Second-avenue. She was stylishly dressed . . . "

I - "Behind Asylum Bars" - Nellie Bly - New York World

The Mystery of the Unknown Insane Girl; Remarkable Story of the Successful Impersonation of Insanity; How Nellie Brown Deceived Judges, Reporters and Medical Experts; She Tells Her Story of How She Passed at Bellevue Hospital; Studying the Role of Insanity Before Her Mirror and Practicing It at the Temporary Home for Women; Arrested and Brought Before Judge Duffy; He Declares She is Some Mother's Darling and Resembles His Sister; Committed to the Care of the Physicians for the Insane at Bellevue; Experts Declare Her Demented; Harsh Treatment of the Insane at Bellevue; "Charity Patients Should Not Complain"; Vivid Pictures of Hospital Life; How Our Esteemed Contemporaries Have Followed a False Trail; Some Needed LIght Afforded Them; Chapters of Absorbing Interest in the Experience of a Feminine "Amateur Casual."


"On the 22nd of September I was asked by THE WORLD if I could have myself committed to one of the Asylums for the Insane in New York, with a view to writing a plain and unvarnished narrative of the treatment of the patients therein and the methods of management &c. . . . "

"Among the Mad" - Nellie Bly - Godey's Lady's Book