States of Mind: Tom O’Bedlam and Early Modern Attitudes to Mental Health

  • Ian Noonan (Speaker)
  • R. Thomas (Speaker)
  • Laura Sherlock (Speaker)
  • Hannah Crawforth (Speaker)
  • Neil Vickers (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


A multidisciplinary reflection on the character Tom O’Bedlam in song, drama, history and lived experience.

Tom O’Bedlam appears as a character both referred to and adopted by Edgar in King Lear. The term refers to a beggar discharged from the Bethlem Hospital – someone with a mental illness and perceived to have some legitimate right to beg because of this history of misfortune. The character, Tom O’Bedlam, would have been known to Shakespeare’s audience as he features in a number of poems and popular songs of the early 17th century.
Period14 Feb 2016
Event titleStates of Mind: Tom O'Bedlam and Early Modern Attitudes to Mental Health
Event typeConference
LocationLondon, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionNational