The Making of Heartbreak Hill
Dedicated to Anna with thanks
This reproduction of the author’s dedication from From Under A Cloud On Heartbreak Hill explains the title of the book and the inspiration behind it.
I was inspired to write this book upon reading a mid-nineteenth century memoir from a resident of the Indiana State Hospital For the Insane called Anna Agnew. Her memoir – From Under a Cloud at Seven Steeples – attempts to set the record straight with first-hand accounts of life within the confines of an insane asylum. Her book ignited massive changes in attitude toward that class of vulnerable citizen, exploding myths, dispelling ignorance and forcing people to shed their prejudices and utilise their own agency. She, in turn, was inspired to put pen to paper when, on en- countering her in a state of melancholy, a doctor once remarked;
“Surely as the sun comes from behind the cloud, just so surely will you come from under the cloud now enveloping you.”
Anna’s book was the impetus for far-reaching structural and attitudinal change that swept the western world once people woke up to realities that had for too long lay hidden behind mainstream media propaganda.
I do not consider myself needy, vulnerable or at risk in the same way that many of my neighbours are. I am one of the lucky ones. Yet I nonetheless find myself under the cloud of social dependency. And although it shouldn’t even be a cloud, it is. It occurs to me now that I have a clear opportunity to give voice to a vitally important story that largely remains untold.
For her inspiration and for the title of my book, I thank Anna and I dedicate this project to her.