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.

The Unsinkable Myth

This week sees the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic, one of the deadliest peacetime disasters at sea. Richard Howells, author of The Myth of the …more

Remembering Scott

A century on from his dramatic death on the way back from the South Pole, the memory of the explorer Captain Scott and his ill-fated Terra Nova expedition is strong…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

Lost Libraries

In the latter half of the 17th century the English polymath Thomas Browne wrote Musaeum Clausum, an imagined inventory of ‘remarkable books, antiquities, pictures a…more

Selma Lagerlöf: Surface and Depth

In 2011 many countries around the world welcomed The Wonderful Adventures of Nils and the other works of the Swedish writer Selma Lagerlöf into the public domain. …more

Robert Southey’s Dreams Revisited

As well as being poet laureate for 30 years and a prolific writer of letters, Robert Southey was an avid recorder of his dreams. W.A. Speck, author of Robert Southe…more

The Mysteries of Nature and Art

Julie Gardham, Senior Assistant Librarian at University of Glasgow’s Special Collections Department, takes a look at the book that was said to have spurred a youn…more

The Memoirs of Joseph Grimaldi

Andrew McConnell Stott, author of The Pantomime Life of Joseph Grimaldi, introduces the life and memoirs of the most famous and celebrated of English clowns. Few bi…more