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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.

Black on Black

Should we consider black a colour, the absence of colour or a suspension of vision produced by a deprivation of light? Beginning with Robert Fludd’s attempt to pict…more

Olaus Magnus’ Sea Serpent

The terrifying Great Norway Serpent, or Sea Orm, is the most famous of the many influential sea monsters depicted and described by 16th-century ecclesiastic, cartog…more

Seeing Joyce

This year’s ‘Bloomsday’ – 108 years after Leopold Bloom took his legendary walk around Dublin on the 16th June 1904 – is the first since the works of Jame…more

Painting the New World

In 1585 the Englishman John White, governor of one of the very first North American colonies, made a series of exquisite watercolour sketches of the native Algonkin…more

Richard Dadd’s Master-Stroke

Nicholas Tromans, author of Richard Dadd: The Artist and the Asylum, takes a look at Dadd’s most famous painting The Fairy Feller’s Master-Stroke. Richard Dadd …more