Mary Sidney and the Voice of God
Philip Sidney’s attempt at translating the Psalms ended with his early death. Then, his sister took up the cause—and proved herself the superior poet.
In Defense of Polonius
Shakespeare’s tedious old fool was also a dad just doing his best.
The Murder Ballad Was the Original True Crime Podcast
The 1896 version of crime sensationalism also taught the victim-blaming lesson “Stay Sexy, Don’t Get Murdered.”
Her Majesty’s Kidnappers
In the 17th century, Nathaniel Giles had the right to conscript young singers into the British royal children’s choir. He and a business partner went a step further.
Dean Mahomet: Travel Writer, Border Crosser
The author of what is considered the first English-language book by an Indian writer was neither a rebel nor an accommodationist.
Is Jane Austen the Antidote to Social Media Overload?
Racking up likes and followers today resembles the nonstop friending of 19th-century England. But Austen's characters figured out how to disengage.
Pirating Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, in the 1840s
When Parley's Illuminated Library published a pirated version of A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens decided he had had enough.
The Font Detectives
For typography experts like Thomas Phinney, the history of the printed word is crucial to weeding out fraud.
Jane Austen’s Subtly Subversive Linguistics
Why are Jane Austen books still so beloved? A linguist argues it has more to do with Austen's masterful use of language than with plot.
The Tangled Language of Jargon
What our emotional reaction to jargon reveals about the evolution of the English language, and how the use of specialized terms can manipulate meaning.