An opium den in London's East End

How Opium Use Became a Moral Issue

In the 19th century, England's working classes frequently used opium. But there weren't laws against the drug until the middle classes started using it.
An illustration from War of the Worlds

What The War of the Worlds Had to Do with Tasmania

H.G. Wells's famous science fiction novel imagines what would happen if Martians did to Great Britain what Europeans did to Tasmania.
Victoria wedding cake

England’s Obsession with Queen Victoria’s Wedding Cake

Queen Victoria's wedding, and its spectacular cake, caused a frenzy.
Victorian Microscopy

Under Victorian Microscopes, an Enchanted World

When it came time to describe what they saw under microscopes, Victorians couldn’t help but perceive a real-life fairyland.
Victorian-era lacemakers

How the Victorians Politicized Lace

Scholar Elaine Freedgood tells the story of how, in the face of encroaching industrialism, handmade lace enjoyed a frilly revival.
Spring Frances MacDonald

The Scottish Sisters Who Pioneered Art Nouveau

Margaret and Frances Macdonald and their Glasgow School of Art classmates Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Harold MacNair were Art Nouveau's Glasgow Four.
Little Women

Did Victorians Really Get Brain Fever?

The melodramatic descriptions of "fevers" in old novels reveal just how frightening the time before modern medicine must have been.
European Starlings

What If We Had All the Birds from Shakespeare in Central Park?

According to birding lore, two of America's most invasive bird species were introduced by a misguided Shakespeare fan named Eugene Schieffelin.
Hulk Hogan (left) and Nick Denton (right)

How Hulk Hogan v. Gawker May Change the Face of Journalism

The recent Gawker vs. Hogan spat is the latest in the long history of journalism, free speech, gossip, and the law.
Samuel Smiles by Sir George Reid, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo

Before KonMari and NotSorry, There Was the Samuel Smiles’ Guide to Self Help

Samuel Smiles' 1859 book, Self Help, offered a groundbreaking approach to self improvement.