Participant Info

First Name
Last Name
University of Leicester
Website URL
Lunatic Asylums, Asylum Patients, History of Psychiatry, Insanity, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Idiocy, Imbecility, Pauper Insanity, Poor Law, Poverty, Nineteenth Century
Additional Contact Information

Personal Info

About Me

Current early career researcher, working on turning my thesis into my first book, based at the University of Leicester. I sit on the editorial board of Local Population Studies journal, and am the current PG/ECR Officer on the Executive Committee of the Society for the Social History for Medicine.

I completed my PhD in April 2019 at the University of Leicester:  ‘The Circulation of the Insane: The Pauper Lunatic Experience of the Garlands Asylum, 1862-1913’. My thesis examined the Garlands Lunatic Asylum, Cumbria, and how it’s patients were moved in and out of the institution, from its opening in 1862 until 1913. My findings centred on the patient experience, and particularly on the affect patient transfer of those considered ‘not recovered’. In my current work, I am looking at this more closely, as the movement of patients, at various stages of their illnesses and recoveries, was considerable, and this patient transfer occurred regularly between institutions.

Throughout my research into asylum patients my interests have also focused on areas that have informed by publications. I have become fascinated with the writing of pauper patients, and have been lucky enough to discover asylum letters kept alongside patient records. Discoveries of visiting registers have also allowed me to get closer to the patient experience through their connections with relatives and continuing relationships with family.

Since 2015 I have regularly posted snippets of my research to my blog – – which has led to lots of interaction with non-academic audiences. People have reached out asking for assistance with researching their own relatives who were institutionalized, and I have been happy to oblige. I am grateful for people who have shared their stories with me, which gives me a greater connection to the archival material.

This connection informs my current work, and will continue to do so, as I strive to provide a voice to the poor, institutionalized, and mentally unwell, who have been silenced and confined to the asylum casebooks for decades.

Recent Publications

• C. Dobbing, ‘Writing and Rebellion Among Pauper Patients in the Garlands Lunatic Asylum’, in L. O’Hagan (ed.), Rebellious Writing: Marginalised Edwardians and the Struggle for Symbolic Power (Forthcoming 2020).

• C. Dobbing, ‘Review Article: Pauper agency among the sick poor in the long nineteenth century’, History, 105:364 (2020), pp.107-117.

• C. Dobbing, ‘The Family and Insanity: The Experience of the Garlands Lunatic Asylum, 1862-1910’, in C. Beardmore, C. Dobbing and S. King (eds), Family Life in Britain, 1650-1910 (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019).

• C. Dobbing, ‘The Circulation of Pauper Lunatics and the Transitory Nature of Mental Health Provision in late nineteenth century Cumberland and Westmorland’, Local Population Studies, 99 (2017), pp. 56-65.

• C. Dobbing, ‘An Undiscovered Victorian Institution of Care: A Short Introduction to the Cumberland and Westmorland Joint Lunatic Asylum’, Family and Community History, 19:1 (2016), pp. 3-16.

Media Coverage
Country Focus
United Kingdom
Expertise by Geography
British Isles, England, Ireland
Expertise by Chronology
19th century, 20th century
Expertise by Topic
Disability, Family, Local & Regional, Material Culture, Medicine