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 Lancashire Witches 1612-2012

Not long after ten Lancashire residents were found guilty of witchcraft and hanged in August 1612, the official proceedings of the trial were published by the clerk…more

Conan Doyle’s Olympic Crusade

When an exhausted Dorando Pietri was helped across the finishing line in the 1908 Olympics marathon, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes, was there t…more

The First Olympic Protest

Rebecca Jenkins looks back to when London first hosted the Olympic Games and how a mix up with flags gave birth to the first Olympic protest. Just over 100 years ag…more

The Polyglot of Bologna

Michael Erard takes a look at The Life of Cardinal Mezzofanti, a book exploring the extraordinary talent of the 19th century Italian cardinal who was reported to be…more

Seeing Joyce

The “Bloomsday” of 2012 – 108 years after Leopold Bloom took his legendary walk around Dublin on the 16th June 1904 – was the first since the works of James…more

The Krakatoa Sunsets

When a volcano erupted on a small island in Indonesia in 1883, the evening skies of the world glowed for months with strange colours. Richard Hamblyn explores a lit…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

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

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