Sarah Wise

Sarah Wise

Sarah Wise is a lecturer, author and researcher. She teaches undergraduates at the University of California’s London Study Center, and post-graduates at City University, London.
She has been a public speaker for 14 years, and has most recently addressed the V&A Museum of Childhood, the London School of Economics Literature Festival and the Authors’ Club.
She has a Master’s Degree in Victorian Studies from Birkbeck College, University of London. Her debut book, The Italian Boy: Murder and Grave Robbery in 1830s London (2004), won the Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction and was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize.

Her follow-up, The Blackest Streets: The Life and Death of a Victorian Slum (2008), was shortlisted for the Ondaatje Prize for evocation of a location and was a Radio 4 Book of the Year.
Her most recent book, Inconvenient People: Lunacy, Liberty and the Mad-Doctors in Victorian England, was shortlisted for the 2015 Wellcome Prize.

The Secrets of A Strange Life: Exploring Victorian London’s Worst Slum


Police would not patrol there, even in daylight; no stranger would chance their arm there; it was a nest of street-robbers, prostitutes and loafers. The Old Nichol district in Shoreditch has had a terrible press over the past 150 years or so. But did it deserve it? Historian Sarah Wise has pieced together a much […]

Crime Poor Prostitution

Ancestors in the 19th Century Private Lunatic Asylum


In researching private lunatic asylums of the 19th century, Sarah Wise uncovered a number of documents/series of documents that reveal the admissions, releases, escapes, suicides and contested certifications of patients. In this talk, she explores how the various archival holdings of these mainly middle- and upper-class patients may be of use to those researching their […]