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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Rare Botanical Books and Manuscripts

Medical Botany, William Woodville (1790)

Just a stone’s throw away from the hustle and bustle of London Victoria is the Royal Horticultural Society’s Lindley Library, an elaborate red-brick building with a rich intellectual heritage. Specialising in botanical art and garden history, the Lindley Library is a horticultural lover’s paradise, and contains a fascinating array of early printed books on gardening, […]

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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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Menander and The Woman from Messene

View of ancient Messene

The comedian Menander (342-490 BC), remains one of ancient Greece’s most influential playwrights. He was the leading representative of New Comedy, a theatrical form that originated in Athens. Plays of this kind focused on the struggles of everyday life, from issues concerning marriage, to money. Despite writing over one hundred plays during his lifetime, only […]

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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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