Mary Huestis Pengilly bracht een aantal jaren (8?) van haar leven door in een inrichting voor geesteszieken. Na haar ontslag uit de inrichting publiceerde ze gedeelten uit haar tijdens haar opname bijgehouden dagboek onder de titel Diary Written in the Provincial Lunatic Asylum (1885), om aandacht te vragen voor de misstanden waar ze mee te maken had gehad.
April. — The friends of Miss Short have been here and taken her home, and word returned that she is better. I am thankful to think she is with her mother, and I do not see her so improperly treated; it made me feel wretched to think of her.
Poor Katy Dugan's friends came one day. I watched my chance and told one of them to let her mother know she was getting worse and was not well treated. I had many heart-aches for that girl; I scarcely know why. They must have seen she looked worse; her dress of flannel, trimmed with satin of the same color, which looked so nice when she came, was filthy with spots of gruel and milk they had been forcing her to eat. This day, I remember, was worse than common days of trouble. I had been excited by seeing one of the most inoffensive inmates pushed and spoken to very roughly, without having done any wrong. They attempted to comb that poor girl's hair; she will not submit, begs and cries to go down there. I go to the bath-room door to beg them to be gentle with her. Mrs. Mills slammed the door in my face. She is vexed at any expression of sympathy. Again I hear that pitiful cry, and I go up the hall to see what the trouble is. They had taken her in a room to hold her on the floor, by those heavy, strong nurses sitting on her arms and feet, while they force her to eat. I return, for I can't endure the sight. I met Mrs. Mills, with a large spoon, going to stuff her as she did me. (I was not dyspeptic; I had fasted and would have eaten if they had given me milk, as I requested.) She was angry at me again; she ordered me to my room, and threatened to lock me in. What have I done to merit such treatment? How can I endure this any longer!