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.

Was Charles Darwin an Atheist?

Leading Darwin expert and founder of Darwin Online, John van Wyhe, challenges the popular assumption that Darwin’s theory of evolution corresponded with a loss of…more

Beatus of Liébana

In a monastery in the mountains of northern Spain, 700 years after the Book of Revelations was written, a monk set down to illustrate a collection of writings he ha…more

Bugs and Beasts Before the Law

Murderous pigs sent to the gallows, sparrows prosecuted for chattering in Church, a gang of thieving rats let off on a wholly technical acquittal – theoretical psy…more

Christopher Smart’s Jubilate Agno

The poet Christopher Smart — also known as Kit Smart, Kitty Smart, Jack Smart and, on occasion, Mrs Mary Midnight — was a well known figure in 18th-century Lond…more