An illustration depicting two regency-era women speaking with an iMessage bubble

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.
Viverra bengalensis

The Strange Case of Daniel Defoe’s Civet Scheme

In the 17th century, these animals were prized for their musk. So when the not-yet-famous writer Daniel Defoe needed quick cash, he turned to civets.

J.R.R. Tolkien the Philologist

Before The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien was a philologist, a specialist in historical texts.