Captain Misson, described by Captain Charles Johnson as the founder of a fictional "pirate utopia" called Libertalia or Libertatia.

Return to Pirate Island

The history of piracy illustrates a surprising connection to democratic Utopian radicalism—and, of course, stolen treasure.
Soap Bubbles by Jean Simeon Chardin, ca.1733

The Soap Bubble Trope

Throughout the history of philosophy, literature, art, and science, people have been fascinated with the shimmering surfaces of soap bubbles.
Interior of a London Coffee-house, 17th century

The News Junkies of the Eighteenth Century

Hooked on viral news (or is it gossip?), today's Twitter hordes owe a lot to history's coffeehouses.
Sarah Ponsonby and Lady Eleanor Butler, known as the the Ladies of Llangollen

Who Were the Ladies of Llangollen?

Top hat connoisseurs, friends of princesses and poets, tchotchke models, dog lovers, cottage keepers...lesbians?
Victorian woman reading

A Novel Defense of the Internet

Novel reading was once regarded as an idle occupation, just as Internet use is now.