Cornhill Magazine,  7 (1863), 629–37.

The Strange Story of the Marquise de Douhault

[Edmund S Dixon]




Mental Illness, Hospitals, Gender

    In a sensational true story from pre-Revolutionary France, the Marquise de Douhault, whose husband has died an insane epileptic, is drugged with snuff by her heirs and is given a new, low-born identity. Presumed dead by the outside world, she finally wakes up 'in the Salpêtrière, at Paris—a hospital for female lunatics and a prison for female criminals!', where she 'gradually regain[s] the sad possession of her faculties' (633). Escaping with the help of a friend, she is nevertheless unable to convince the unsympathetic law courts of her true identity, and when she dies 'no one dare inscribe any name upon her tombstone' (637). The version of this story given by Maurice Méjan in Recueil des causes célèbres was an important source for W Wilkie Collins's The Woman in White.

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