Depression – Hannah Allen (17th Century)

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This week we hear the account of a young woman in 17th century London. Hannah Allen suffered from severe depression or what was then known as melancholy. She wrote about the pain and despair she experienced. The way she wrote, retrospective but incorporating written fragments from the time of her collapse, and the nature of the temptations to which she was subject, as well as the cures proposed by relations, indicate a narrative of madness and depression as well as bringing out the pervasive religious belief of the age. Concentrated and painful, her frank account accepted that she had been mentally and physically ill; she wrote simply to explain what it had been like. Her writings are a vivid personal account, but they also show a poignant awareness of how her condition affected those around her.

Listen to an extract of her writings, or read her words on the Extracts and Readings page before listening to this week’s podcast.



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