The Lyon Archive

A Lyon’s Share of Sickness: One Man's Battle Against the Blue Devils


Abraham Septimus Lyon was a young entrepreneur living in the East End of London in the early nineteenth century. He worked to expand his business and move up the social ladder, all the while documenting his struggles in a series of diaries. The second diary, 1826-1839, follows Lyon's business travels and his eventual move to the West Indies in search of a more affluent life.

Over the course of this diary, Lyon very obviously begins to show signs of severe depression, and by the last few pages his symptoms of depression and anxiety have gotten so bad that he mentions visiting multiple doctors over the matter. Lyon’s depression and anxiety seem to hold a large role in how he lives his life and the changing style of writing we see in the latter half of the diary, but our modern concept of mental health is very different from the way it would be approached in Lyon’s time. This exhibit will explore nineteenth-century views of mental health and how Lyon responds to his own battle against the "blue devils."


Mai-Ling Maas