Tour the “Ivy Walls” Mansion

Posted in Past Events

Behind the Ivy Walls

Autobiography by Hal English

Book Signing and TOUR of the “Ivy Walls” Mansion

ivy walls

“Ivy Walls” Mansion

Friday, September 18, 2015

Tour starts at Ellarslie at 6:30 pm

Tickets: $25, $20 for members of the Trenton Museum Society


Trenton native Hal English grew up during the 1960s in the magnificent stone mansion across Parkside Avenue from Ellarslie. He tells his story of physical and mental abuse and subsequent discovery of his true identity in his autobiography Behind the Ivy Walls. English will give a personal tour of the mansion and then head back to The Trenton City Museum at Ellarslie in Cadwalader Park for a reception, reading and book signing. Copies of Behind the Ivy Walls are available for purchase in the museum gift shop.

Behind the Ivy Walls is based on a true beggar-to-boardroom story of a young boy born of the proverbial silver spoon. His father, a prominent doctor, served as a psychiatrist at the New Jersey State Psychiatric Hospital circa 1960s.

Shockingly, the boy finds out after years of mental and physical abuse that he was secretly adopted and begins an implausible yet engrossing journey searching for family. A wonderful Huck Finn type story chock full of positive role models and amusing stories coupled with each chapter unveiling shocking deceptions until ultimately the biggest and almost unfathomable secret is revealed. A secret that was so powerful it had to be buried for over 50 years.

The reader follows a tale of young Harold beginning in the stately ivy-covered English Manor while unveiling the documented horrors of New Jersey’s first lunatic asylum. The young boy becomes homeless, sleeping in Cadwalader Park while struggling to survive the streets and stumbles upon a Little Italy section of town called “The Burg” that seems to him to be magical and full of familial love, the exact opposite of his sheltered life.

The story is peppered with twists and many skeletons-in-the-closet and ends with the final unraveling of the mystery and the revelation of the doctor’s ultimate revenge.

Proceeds from the event support the collections and programs of the Trenton Museum Society.


Read the Trenton Times article about English and his book


Read the English family’s rebuttal