Exploring Dr Johnson’s House

Dr Johnson's House

Hidden amongst Fleet Street’s winding alleys is this characterful Georgian townhouse, the home of the renowned 18th century critic and writer, Dr Samuel Johnson. The great lexicographer lived here for a period of eleven years (c. 1748-1759),  during which time he compiled his masterpiece, A Dictionary of the English Language. A bustling intellectual hub, Dr […]

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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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London’s literary houses

Virginia Woolf house, 29 Fitzroy Square, London

The streets of London bear witness to the famous cultural figures, thinkers, campaigners and more who have lived and worked in the capital. Across the city, a series of coloured plaques bring to life the connections between specific sites and their notable inhabitants, along with the historical events and former buildings associated with a particular […]

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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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