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Erotomania and Queen Victoria: or love among the assassins?

  • Trevor Turner (a1)
Extract

The issue of crime and insanity in Victorian Britain is dominated by the 1843 case of Daniel McNaughton. Hounded by paranoid delusions, about which he was relatively unforthcoming despite detailed questioning, he succeeded in shooting Henry Drummond, private secretary to the Prime Minister, Robert Peel. Thinking that it was Peel himself he had shot, McNaughton is quoted by the arresting policeman as stating “he shall break my peace of mind no longer”. The furore over his trial and non-execution filtered down the century, via the McNaughton rules. Daniel himself mouldered in Bethlem and Broadmoor for the rest of his days (West & Walk, 1977, esp. p. 93). But much more prevalent in the public's eye were the seven (at least) serious assaults on the Queen. Not only did they bring about a new criminal charge (vide infra) – but their recurrence tended to promote pro-royalist sympathies as well as pro-custodial attitudes towards “the insane”.

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Copyright
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
References
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Benson, A. C. & Esher, Viscount (1908) The Letters of Queen Victoria 1837–1861. 3 vols. London: John Murray.
Rosenberg, C. (1968) The Trial of the Assassin Guiteau. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Spitzer, R. L., Endicott, J. & Robins, E. (1978) Research Diagnostic Criteria: rationale and reliability. Archives of General Psychiatry, 35, 35773.
Trethowan, W. H. (1979) Uncommon psychiatric disorders. British Journal of Hospital Medicine, 22, 22490.
Walker, N. (1968) Crime and Insanity in England Vol 1: The Historical Perspective. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Weintraub, S. (1988) Victoria: Biography of a Queen. London: Unwin Paperbacks.
West, D. J. & Walk, A. (1977) Daniel MacNaughton: His Trial and the Aftermath. London: Gaskell (Royal College of Psychiatrists).
Note. The Casebooks of Ticehurst House are in the library of the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, 183 Euston Road, London NW1.
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BJPsych Bulletin
  • ISSN: 0955-6036
  • EISSN: 1472-1473
  • URL: /core/journals/bjpsych-bulletin
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Erotomania and Queen Victoria: or love among the assassins?

  • Trevor Turner (a1)
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