In 1887 young Nellie Bly sets out for New York and a career in journalism, determined to make her way as a serious reporter, whatever that may take.

But life in the city is tougher than she imagined. Down to her last dime and desperate to prove her worth, she comes up with a dangerous plan: to fake insanity and have herself committed to the asylum that looms on Blackwell’s Island. There, she will work undercover to document – and expose – the wretched conditions faced by the patients.

But when the asylum door swings shut behind her, she finds herself in a place of horrors, governed by a harshness and cruelty she could never have imagined. Cold, isolated and starving, her days of terror reawaken the traumatic events of her childhood. She entered the asylum of her own free will – but will she ever get out?

An extraordinary portrait of a woman way ahead of her time, Madwoman is the story of a quest for the truth that changed the world.

Praise & Reviews

‘Moving and poweful.’
Sunday Times

‘Louisa Treger is carving out a place for herself as one of the leading writers of biographical fiction.’
Sunday Times, South Africa 

‘Treger’s vivid descriptions of Nellie’s time in the asylum and her portrait of a truly extraordinary woman make for a compelling read.’
Heat Magazine, Critic’s Choice

‘Madwoman is one of the best, a magnificent portrayal of Nellie Bly in all her journalistic integrity and daring.’
New York Journal of Books

‘Vivid and written with compassion, Treger illumines Bly’s risky reporting that led to radical reform.’                                                   Toronto Star

‘Treger paints a dynamic portrait of a pioneering journalist whose work sparked real change.’
Mail on Sunday

‘This story of a pioneer woman is superbly and engrossingly presented.’                                                                                                 —Mystery and Suspense

‘A propulsive, compelling novel about the lengths one woman will go to to expose the truth about how those most in need of help are kept in danger.’

‘Louisa Treger’s impressive Madwoman describes the extraordinary bravery of 19th-century journalist Nellie Bly, who wrote a blistering exposé of the insane asylum on Blackwell’s Island, “a human rat trap” in which she intentionally got herself incarcerated. Her ordeal makes for a dramatic story.

‘One of the summer’s most hotly anticipated novels… The book’s themes of attitudes to mental health, and women having to fight for professional success are strikingly relevant today. It’s also a seriously good read.’
Waitrose Weekend