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Essays

Every two weeks we publish a new long-form essay which seeks to offer insight and reflection upon public domain works and the oft overlooked histories which surround them. You’ll find pieces on a wide and eclectic range of subjects – from a history of the smile in portraiture to the case of the woman who claimed to give birth to rabbits. Our contributors are drawn from an equally varied pool, from leading writers and scholars – such as Julian Barnes and Jack Zipes – to history and literature PhD students working with fascinating material and seeking an outlet for their more unusual finds. If you’d like to submit (or if you simply have an idea for a good subject) then please visit our submissions page, we’d love to hear from you.

Want the essays off the screen and onto your bookshelf? Then look no further than our “Selected Essays” series.
See here for more info.

Defining the Demonic

Although Jacques Collin de Plancy’s Dictionnaire infernal, a monumental compendium of all things diabolical, was first published in 1818 to much success, it is th…more

Master of Disaster, Ignatius Donnelly

The destruction of Atlantis, cataclysmic comets, and a Manhattan tower made entirely from concrete and corpse — Carl Abbott on the life and work of a Minnesotan w…more

Woodcuts and Witches

Jon Crabb on the witch-craze of Early Modern Europe, and how the concurrent rise of the mass-produced woodcut helped forge the archetype of the broom-riding crone …more

Defoe and the Distance to Utopia

In the wake of recent political shifts and the dystopian flavour they carry for many, J.H. Pearl looks to the works of Daniel Defoe and the lessons they can teach u…more

Astral Travels with Jack London

On the centenary of Jack London’s death, Benjamin Breen looks at the writer’s last book to be published in his lifetime, The Star Rover — a strange tale about…more

Picturing Don Quixote

This year marks the 400th anniversary of the death of Miguel de Cervantes, author of one of the best-loved and most frequently illustrated books in the history of l…more

Divine Comedy: Lucian Versus The Gods

With the twenty-six short comic dialogues that made up Dialogues of the Gods, the 2nd-century writer Lucian of Samosata took the popular images of the Greek gods an…more

Robert Greene, the First Bohemian

Known for his debauched lifestyle, his flirtations with criminality, and the sheer volume of his literary output, the Elizabethan writer Robert Greene was a fascina…more

On Oscar Wilde and Plagiarism

Celebrated for his innovative wit, Oscar Wilde and the notion of originality are common bedfellows. The pairing, however, is not without its complications. Joseph B…more