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Change Minds Online: Anne Doble by Awa Ginet

Anne Doble

Photograph of Anne in Bethlem by Barker and Parker in 1887-1888. This photograph has been restored from glass plate negatives held under WUC-05. Anne's face is blurry because she is moving as the photo is being taken

Anne Doble was 37 years old, single, a Business Assistant in Devon when she was admitted at the Bethlem Hospital on September 12th 1887 and was discharged on December 19th 1888. Although her name from the casebook mentions her as ‘Anne’ with an ‘e’, perhaps the Bethlem Admission Officer misspelt as it occurred at times; however I have retrieved information that correlates Ann Doble’s tragic past.

As you can see Ann(e)’s picture is blurry which indicates movement. One can also observe she was wrapped in a wool blanket which suggests Ann(e) was non resilient. Indeed this picture suggests she did not remain still, she did not wish to wear any garment, maybe she did not want her picture to be taken or perhaps she did not think she deserved to be photographed...

What we do know is that the Physician at the Bethlem diagnosed Ann(e) with ‘Melancholia’, ‘Anxiety’ and ‘Depression’. It was noted she experienced no

hallucinations. However, in Anne’s Clinical Notes, he noted that she slept badly, her memory was confused and she had “fixed delusions that she will be arrested for having caused her mother’s death.” Indeed he observed that the patient believed that she “has led a very wicked life and is now suffering and will suffer hereafter in account of it.”

As a result, Ann(e) renounced everything that she possessed including clothing; she cut her hair and she stopped eating. She refused to eat for over a year, so the Clinical Team fed her with the aid of a nose tube. A member of staff wrote that Ann(e) “says she does not want such good food as is given to her.”

In the Victorian ‘Enhanced Observation & Engagement Records’, although at first she would be described as being ‘troublesome about her food’, she would be ‘undressing to every opportunity’, later she would be seen doing needlework which could suggest that when her mind was busy or when her hands were busy, her presentation might have seemed less manic.

Ann(e) believed she was responsible for her mum’s death who passed away in 1885 in Petrockstow where Ann(e) was baptised on 31st January 1850, not far away from the family’s farm, in Heanton Barton, where she grew up in the district of Torrington and where her father, Henry Doble, was a farmer who employed six labourers. It seems like they were living a hectic life which might have left the family little time to grieve…

Sadly, Ann(e) died at the age of 49 in 1899 in Okehampton, still single. With the information we gathered from her casebook and the information I retrieved from Find My Past, I wanted to honour Ann(e)’s past to a place that nurtured her since she was an infant which reminded of her mother, a place she could hardly leave but which embraced so many memories and helas, too many sorrows… Her heart will always be the core of her family’s farm. I have not managed to erase her sadness on the photo but my only aim was to reveal a soul- stirring human face, the face of a daughter honouring her mother...

Anne Doble

I'm So Wicked...

Anne Doble poem

With the poem portrayed in the socio- economic context of the 19th Century, I tried to convey the voice of a single and working woman who might have felt too anxious to express her sadness and perhaps might have felt guilty for thinking of it and how she might have redressed her anger towards her own self...

To see more on Change Minds Online you can find more blog entries here or you can see the exhibition of all our participants' creative work via our page here .