Ten Days a Madwoman
Young Nellie Bly had ambitious goals, especially for a woman at the end of the nineteenth century, when the few female journalists were relegated to writing columns about cleaning or fashion. But fresh off a train from Pittsburgh, Nellie knew she was destined for more and pulled a major journalistic stunt that skyrocketed her to fame: feigning insanity, being committed to the notorious asylum on Blackwell's Island, and writing a shocking expos of the clinic's horrific treatment of its patients. The dead of night, New York City, 1887. Twenty-three-year-old Nellie Bly stares into a mirror, unblinking, eyes forced open as wide as possible. After she loses track of time, she moves away, reads an unnerving ghost story in dim gaslight, then returns to the mirror, eyes bulging, this time practicing deranged facial contortions. The purpose of this bizarre nocturnal ritual? To prepare herself to hoodwink the city s top doctors into deeming her incurably insane. To be committed to Roosevelt Island s infamous asylum. And, once there, to write and publish the most sensational expos of the clinic s horrific treatment of its patients. Nellie succeeded in her quest and skyrocketed to fame. Her inspiring career in stunt journalism that followed enthralled her readers as she drew attention to political corruption, poverty, and abuses of human rights. Leading an uncommonly full life, Nellie went on to do everything from circling the globe in a record seventy-two days and bringing home a pet monkey to marrying an aged millionaire and running his company upon his death.