Inside the Beautiful Inside


A marine without his ship. A man without his liberty.

When the locks can’t hold James Norris they chain him, and when the chains won’t stay James Norris they fix him to a stake. But they still can’t take the thoughts out of his head. He is a man shackled to his own tragedies: the commission he never took; the family and friends he lost; the lover who betrayed him.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest meets Mutiny on the Bounty – an exploration of love, sanity, suffering, and compassion. Based on the true story of James Norris, an American marine who was chained to a stake for  over ten years in Bethlem, Hospital for the Insane (1800-15).

Will James Norris find what he is hunting for? Can he ever sail free?

‘Startlingly original and poetic—Bullock combines horror and brutality with unexpected moments of tenderness .’ Observer

‘The voice she gives to Norris as memories and delusions meld in his disintegrating mind is a haunting one. Nick Rennison Sunday Times Historical Novels of the Month

‘Fascinating and compelling–the writing sparked vivid details in my minds eye. Lovereading, Book of the Month

—It’s 1800. James Norris is imprisoned in Bedlam, physically restrained in the most inhumane way, mentally unstable, taunted by inescapable memories.’ Daily Mail

‘Madness, freedom, love, rebellion and compassion in C18th Bedlam, post Mutiny on the Bounty. Emily Bullock has dazzling talent. AMANDA CRAIG

‘A turbulent and thrilling voyage on the high seas of madness.’ ANN MORGAN, Beside Myself, Crossing Over.

‘Emily Bullock is a wonderful writer, and in this superbly crafted novel she doesn’t waste a single word as she hurls us headlong through a swirling maze of madness that leads us to the very heart of James Norris. Amanda Huggins

‘A staggering work of fiction: utterly unique, unfathomably powerful, not a word wasted or a sentence spare.’ Elspels



Praise for Emily Bullock’s debut novel, The Longest Fight:

‘The backdrop of postwar London is splendidly done – all crusted soot and swirling fog – and the boxing scenes have a terrific vigour and excitement.’ The Times

‘Captivating in its beautiful portrayal of grief and love… Page by page, Jack and his life become all the more real, until he fills the reader’s imagination and the novel can’t be put down. Brilliantly written, genuinely engaging: a great read.’ Press Association

‘In her story about redemption and hope, Bullock’s writing is as taut as the fighters in her ring.’ Historical Novels Review


Book Details


198mm x 129mm








September 24th 2020


Emily Bullock