Portrait of William Blake, 1807

William Blake, Radical Abolitionist

Blake’s works offer an alternative to the failures of the Enlightenment, which couldn’t muster a consistent argument for abolition.
Scottish quack doctor James Graham

The Prince of Quacks (and How He Captivated London)

James Graham, founder of the Temple of Health, benefitted from his undeniable flair for showmanship and his talent for leaping on trends.
Portraits in the Characters of the Muses in the Temple of Apollo by Richard Samuel

The Bluestockings

Meet the original Bluestockings, a group of women intellectuals. Their name would eventually become a misogynist epithet -- but it didn't start that way.
A woman writing a letter at a table

The Ladylike Language of Letters

Letters reveal how language changes. They also offer a peek into the way people--especially women--have always constructed their private and public selves.
francis willughby crows

The First True Ornithologist

Though he was once dismissed as a dilettante, naturalist Francis Willughby was in fact part of the vanguard of observation-based modern science.
Mary Queen of Scots

The Literary Propaganda Campaign Against Mary, Queen of Scots

May of 1568 was a fateful month for Mary, Queen of Scots. She managed to escape prison, but only to be being defeated in battle soon after. Then she made the fateful decision to run to England.
Thames Frost Fair

Magic and Meaning on the Frozen Thames

London's winters used to colder—and a bit more magical, thanks to chilly conditions on the Thames River. "Frost fairs" were popular public celebrations.
New York Journal 1898

To Fix Fake News, Look To Yellow Journalism

Fake news has plenty of precedents in the history of mass media, and particularly, in the history of American journalism.
"The Destruction of Tea at Boston Harbor", lithograph depicting the 1773 Boston Tea Party

Taxation Without Money

If we'd listened to Ben Franklin back in 1766, would we be listening to Ted Cruz in 2016?

Alexander Wilson’s Birds

Before Audubon (1785-1851), there was Alexander Wilson (1766-1813) the "father of American ornithology"