The Grief of a Mind Giving Way

Sophia Turner's Poems from the North Carolina Asylum for the Insane, 1878-1880

Edited by Sylvia D. Hoffert

The Grief of a Mind Giving Way

128 pp., 6 x 9, 5 halftones

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8652-6503-5
    Published: December 2023

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Distributed for the North Carolina Office of Archives and History

What was it like to be morphine addicted woman who was committed to an insane asylum in North Carolina in the late 1800s? Sylvia Hoffert has transcribed and edited the poems of Sophia Turner, a Hillsborough housewife, whose husband Josiah Turner, Jr., placed her in the North Carolina Asylum for the Insane in 1878 hoping that the doctors there could cure her addiction. Neglected by Josiah, who virtually abandoned her, Sophia spent many hours before her grated window composing poems that allowed her to explore and reflect on her distressing situation. A sensitive, intelligent, well-educated woman capable of profound introspection, she used the act of creating poetry as an opportunity to discipline her mind, indulge her sensibilities, and engage her imagination.

About the Author

Sylvia D. Hoffert was a Distinguished Professor of History and Women’s Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She retired from Texas A & M University in 2011. She is the author of a wide variety of books and articles in the field of women’s history including Alva Vanderbilt Belmont: Unlikely Champion of Women’s Rights (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2012). Her forthcoming book entitled Wagging Tongues and Tittle Tattle: Gossip, Rumor, and Reputation in a Small Southern Town will be published by the University of Georgia Press.
For more information about Sylvia D. Hoffert, visit the Author Page.