Can anyone nail down the origin and first usage of the phrase...
“barking mad” (also, just "barking")?
Basic research shows two possible answers:
Barking, England supposedly had a mental institution attached to the abbey back in the medieval period.
However, according to the author of one post on -phrasefinder.org
”The problem with the asylum tale is the date - it is far too early. 'Barking mad' isn't medieval and began to appear in the language only around the beginning of the 20th century The first record of it that I can find in print is from the USA. The 11th November 1927 edition of the Oklahoma newspaper The Ada Evening News….”
This would seem to be incorrect. I have found a number of passages from the 19th century going back as far as 1826, mostly from BrE texts.
As well, I have only seen it in BrE usage such as in the Harry Potter series:
"Barking," said Uncle Vernon, "howling mad, the lot of them. You'll see. You just wait."
"Barking mad" - Ron on Hermione
"It's not my fault she's barking mad" - Harry referring to Madam Pince
Also, there is the obvious reference to a “mad dog”, as seen in the 1826 text.
“A very respectable paper in this county, too, only three years ago, published an account of a horse bitten by a presumed mad-dog, going barking mad. Who, after this, can depend on newspaper records of Hydrophobia ”
Is there any source lurking out there behind a pay-wall or other print media that could indicate the origin of this phrase?