Nellie Bly Research: The Asylum

Even before the New York World published Bly's first-hand account of her stay on Blackwell's Island, the mystery of "The Insane Girl" captivated the public - and the press. Particularly taken in was the New York Sun, who ran a story about "Nellie Brown" nearly every day of her incarceration. When Bly's article dropped on October 9, the egg-faced Sun was furious, and attempted to sabotage the second half of the massive expose, leading to an incredible, incredulous response from Bly herself. 

In writing the novel, these articles were invaluable in creating both the timeline and the sense of keen public interest Bly's adventure drew.

The first breathless report of the insane woman who appeared in court, suffering from some romantic amnesia.

The Sun follows up, certain they have a sensational story.

The Sun reports the release of "Nellie Brown", with whom they desire an interview.

A compilation of reporting on the "mystery girl" over her 10 days of madness.

The World shocks its readers with the first half of Bly's account of her time as a madwoman, ending just as she arrives at Blackwell's. The second part will run in a week.

Cockerill and Pulitzer cannot resist crowing about their sensational scoop, especially how they made fools of other NY newspapers.

Seeking revenge, the Sun scoops Nellie Bly's own story, offering the staff's account of her time on the island, working hard to discredit her and steal her thunder at the same time.

The second half of Bly's account, covering her whole stay upon Blackwell's Island, the cruelty of the nurses, the indifference of the doctors, the horrors she saw and endured.

Bly's vociferous and vehement rebuttal of everything printed in The Sun's account of her stay.

The World keeps the story in the headlines, praising their own humanitarian achievements.

More fallout, as investigations and recriminations lead to investments and changes in the care of the insane.

Bly's book, based on her reporting, slightly fleshed out, with additional articles from other recent investigations she'd done.

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© 2018 by David Blixt.