Exploring the Penguin Classics series with Henry Eliot

The Penguin Classics Book Henry Eliot

For more than 70 years, Penguin Classics have adorned the shelves of bibliophiles across the world. From the tales of Ancient Mesopotamia to the poetry of World War One, the series brings together the best of classic literature. But with so many works to discover, it can be hard to know where to begin. Eager […]

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Poets of the First World War

Remembrance poppies

The horrors of the First World War resulted in an outpouring of poetry. In their writings, soldier-poets including Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon, describe the harrowing realities of war, from scenes of dismembered comrades to their subsequent psychological trauma. Surrounded by brutality, many poets filled their work with nostalgia for the people and places back […]

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Anglo-Saxon Women: Wielders of Power

Whitby Abbey

Records from the Anglo-Saxon period largely depict the deeds of men, from the military successes of King Alfred the Great to the piety of Edward the Confessor. Yet, at a time when women were seen almost as commodities – whether as tools to strengthen political unions or child bearers – some managed to wield considerable […]

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Unicorns in medieval manuscripts

Unicorn bestiary manuscript British Library Harley 4751 13 century

From Starbucks’s unicorn frapuccinos to unicorn beauty products, the mythical creature dominates popular culture. But, the sparkling and gentle animal that is portrayed today is a far cry from its earlier depictions. Ancient origins The first reference to the unicorn occurs 2,500 years ago in the work Indica, written by the Greek physician, Ctesias. A […]

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The origins of Gothic Literature

Henry Fuseli The Nightmare 18th century

From Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto, to Matthew Lewis’s The Monk, explore the 18th century texts that have shaped the origins of Gothic Literature

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New Woman Writers

Women Who Did New Woman Writers

In 1894, the novelist Sarah Grand introduced the term ‘New Woman’ in her essay ‘The New Aspect of the Woman Question’ published in the North American Review. The New Woman was a dominant figure during the 1890s and the early 20th century, and threatened ideals of femininity with her demands for the vote, education and […]

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The Legend of Saint George and the Dragon

St George and the Dragon Legenda Aurea

St George’s legendary fight against the dragon is firmly embedded in England’s cultural history. But who was St George, and why has he become so famous? Little is known about the exact details of St George’s life, but he is believed to have been born in Cappadocia (an area in modern day Turkey), in the […]

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Cultivating Communities: The Influence of Continental Women on English Medieval Women’s Literate Practices

Woodcut of St Catherine of Siena from Wynkyn de Worde's printed edition The Orcherd of Syon (1519)

The fifteenth century saw the emergence of continental women’s mystical works appearing in England, facilitated by the early printed textual tradition of Wynkyn de Worde and William Caxton (Grisé Holy Women in Print 83). Indeed, the translation of the works of women such as St Catherine of Siena (1347-8), St Bridget of Sweden (c.1302/3-73), and […]

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An introduction to the Exeter Book

Exeter Book manuscript

In 970 AD, one of the UK’s greatest literary treasures was written: the Exeter Book. It is probably the oldest surviving book of poetry from Anglo-Saxon England, and contains a fascinating array of Old English works, from Christian and elegaic poems, to riddles! The book was bequeathed to Exeter Cathedral Library by the first bishop […]

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#PenguinClassics70

Penguin Classics books

2016 marks the 70th anniversary of Penguin Classics and in order to celebrate, I’ve decided to compile a list of the Classics that I’ve found influential. Let me know which Penguin Classics you would include!   The Odyssey, Homer (c.750-700 BC) Where better to start than with Homer’s Odyssey, the first Penguin Classics title published […]

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