Can we imagine what life was like for the thousands of young women who lived as prostitutes, servants and migrants in eighteenth-century London? In 1787, the Lock Hospital Asylum opened its doors to a small group of women who had been treated for syphilis, to house them and spiritually reform them. The clerk who admitted them kept a notebook in which he recorded their stories of their lives before treatment. These short, handwritten accounts offer us a narrow window into hundreds of women’s experiences, as they recalled the abuse, seduction, prostitution, poverty and broken relationships they had faced.
These unique records – lost in the archive for two centuries - now form the basis for an audio drama ‘The Lock Asylum’ by writers Cara Jennings and Sophie Trott in partnership with Morley Radio (Morley College London) and LSE. This event is the launch of this new production. Participants will be able to listen to the audio drama and discuss it. The work will be introduced by the writers and Patrick Wallis (LSE), who uncovered the source and has led the project to research it, who will be discussing the challenges faced in the dramatization of historical records, and how these historical events still resonate in the present.
Thanks to the chance find of this previously unstudied historical source, the silenced voices of a marginalised section of society can now be heard. The clerk’s register of patients has been transcribed and studied as part of an ongoing LSE student research project in the Department of Economic History and a collaborative public research project involving the Royal College of Surgeons and London Metropolitan Archive. The register has also been the basis of a series of workshops held in a variety of settings including Morley College London, City Lit, schools, 6th forms, and drama schools
The event will showcase the latest podcast and there will be a Q&A session afterwards.
Meet the speakers
Cara Jennings is a writer and theatre practitioner who works Adult Ed. for Morley College London and City Lit. Recent output includes the Ready Player Marx (R4) and How To Burn A Million Quid (BBC Sounds).
Beckie Mills (director) is a director and teacher who specialises in new writing and Shakespeare. She also writes and produces the Positive Cynic Podcast.
Sophie Trott is a writer and performer who, with Cara Jennings, co-wrote ‘Hendrix and Handel’, a comedy drama for Sky Arts about Georg Frideric Handel meeting Jimi Hendrix.
Patrick Wallis is Professor of Economic History at LSE. His research explores the economic, social and medical history of Britain and Europe from the 16th to 18th century.
Missed the live event or want to listen again?
You can listen to the audiodrama and panel discussion here: Audiodrama and panel discussion recording (Passcode: 1f24.8#9)
You can listen to a podcast of the audio drama here: The Lock Asylum
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