The Public Domain Review publishes articles which focus on works old enough to have entered the public domain and which are available online in openly-licensed digitised form.
In general, we encourage contributions which highlight material at the more unorthodox end of the cultural spectrum – curiosities, obscure theories, strange inventions, and so on. If on a well-known figure then we tend to favour an unusual angle or a focus on lesser known works. As well as pieces which focus on particular works, we also welcome articles with a broader historical focus, though they should be closely aligned with interesting material to which we can link.
Perhaps the best way to get an idea of the kind of thing we like is to have a look at our previous articles – for example Claire Preston on Thomas Browne’s inventory of made-up objects, Richard Hamblyn on Gerard Manley Hopkins’ volcano letters to Nature magazine, Julian Barnes on Maupassant’s meeting with Swinburne or Nicholas Humphreys on medieval animal trials. You may also find it useful to look at our collection items, many of which we would welcome being made into the focus of a full length article.
As regards to tone, we tend to favour the ‘playful’ and informal over anything too expository in style. Again, have a look at our previous articles to get a feel for the kind of thing we like.
An important requirement is that the work or group of works associated with the article must, in addition to being in the public domain (ideally worldwide), also be freely available online in digital form. If you have an idea for something but are unsure as to whether it qualifies, or if you’d like some help determining whether a digital copy is openly licensed or not, then just get in touch.
Contributions should be ideally between 1500-2500 words, though longer or shorter pieces will definitely be considered.