Visions of a schizophrenic: the trunk of an ancient tree is consumed by fire, while a cross stands firm. Drawing by T. Hennell, ca. 1935.
- Hennell, Thomas, 1903-1945.
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1 drawing : pencil and india ink ; sheet 19.9 x 16 cm
Michael MacLeod, Thomas Hennell, Cambridge 1988 (on the artist)
Wellcome Library no. 690011i
Thomas Hennell was a professional artist (illustrator, poet, chronicler of countryside ways) who underwent a prolonged schizophrenic episode from 1932 to 1935. He wrote an account of his illness, The witnesses (published in London in 1945 and reprinted in New York in 1967), in which he recounted how his hallucinations appeared to him at the time. He was detained as an inpatient first at St John's Hospital, Stone (the building had been Buckinghamshire County Pauper Lunatic Asylum), then at the Maudsley Hospital (at Denmark Hill, London SE5) and finally at Claybury, Essex: he disliked his treatment at the first two, and satirised the Maudsley psychiatrists in his book, but enjoyed the humane therapy at Claybury (though there is a signed drawing by him in the Tate of staff stealing from a patient in Claybury). Although he was a prolific artist, the present drawing is one of only two that survive illustrating his mental state: other drawings of his illness were destroyed by his mother after his early death (he was apparently lynched by Indonesian nationalists while employed as a war artist)