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Patricia Fara explores the scientific education of Mary Shelley and how a work of early science fiction inspired her best-known novel Frankenstein.

The innocence of France’s Captain Dreyfus – a Jewish officer incarcerated on Devil’s Island after he was accused of spying for Germany – has long been established. But was there a real traitor? And what part did Oscar Wilde play in the murky affair? Nigel Jones investigates.

Volume: 61 Issue: 2 2011

To mark the 400th anniversary of his birth, UNESCO has declared Evliya Çelebi a ‘man of the year’. His Seyahatname, or Book of Travels, is one of the world’s great works of literature. Caroline Finkel celebrates a figure little known in the West.

Volume: 61 Issue: 11 2011

The linguistic legacy of the King James Bible is immense. But, David Crystal discovers, it is not quite the fount of common expressions that many of its admirers believe it to be.

Volume: 61 Issue: 1 2011

Chris Corin ressurects the life of a Soviet survivor whose remarkable and significant career deserves to be better known.

Issue: 70 2011

On a research trip to Moscow in the late 1990s, Deborah Kaple was given a package of papers by a former Gulag official who believed its contents would be of great interest to a western audience.

Volume: 61 Issue: 3 2011

Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility was first published in London by Thomas Egerton on October 30th, 1811.

Volume: 61 Issue: 10 2011

Since its discovery in Yemen in 1972 a collection of brittle documents, believed to be among the earliest Koranic texts, has been the subject of fierce and divisive debate among scholars of Islamic history, as Scott MacMillan reports.

Volume: 61 Issue: 4 2011

The Spectator was first published on March 1st, 1711. 

Volume: 61 Issue: 3 2011

Four hundred years after it was first published, the Authorised Version of the Bible remains hugely influential, especially in the US. Derek Wilson examines its origins and its legacy.

Volume: 61 Issue: 1 2011

Janina Ramirez, presenter of a new BBC documentary on Iceland and its literature, explores the country’s sagas, their wide-ranging legacy and what they tell us about the history and culture of the Arctic island and its peoples.

Volume: 61 Issue: 5 2011

The first performance of The Tempest on record was at court on All Hallows’ Day, on November 1st 1611.

Volume: 61 Issue: 11 2011

The Aeneid, Virgil’s epic Latin poem, offers as profound an insight into the current Libyan crisis as any 24-hour news channel, argues Robert Zaretsky.

Volume: 61 Issue: 6 2011

On the centenary of the death of W.S.Gilbert Ian Bradley examines the achievements of the surprisingly radical Victorian dramatist and librettist who, in collaboration with the composer Arthur Sullivan, created classic satires of English national identity.

Volume: 61 Issue: 5 2011

The great Russian author drew inspiration from the countryside and explored the practical and spiritual impact of trees on people, as well as on the environment and climate, Roland Quinault writes.

Volume: 60 Issue: 2 2010

Detective stories captured the imaginations of the British middle classes in the 20th century. William D. Rubinstein looks at the rise of home-grown writers such as Agatha Christie, how they mirrored society and why changes in social mores eventually murdered their sales.

Volume: 60 Issue: 12 2010

Court fashion, a love of birdsong and the pressures of being a king are some of the subjects discussed in letters between Philip II of Spain and his teenage daughters. Janet Ravenscroft explores the human side of one of Europe’s most powerful Renaissance monarchs.

Volume: 60 Issue: 10 2010

Though Protestants sought to distance themselves from Roman Catholics on the subject, angels  played a key role in Protestant culture as a means by which to understand humans and their place in the universe, explains Joad Raymond.

Volume: 60 Issue: 12 2010

Patricia Fara explores the scientific education of Mary Shelley and how a work of early science fiction inspired her best-known novel Frankenstein.

Volume: 60 Issue: 5 2010

Richard Cavendish remembers the birth of a publishing institution, on July 30th 1935.

Volume: 60 Issue: 7 2010

Wilkie Collins’ haunting mystery of false identity and female instability reflected one of the lunacy panics of the age. Sarah Wise looks at three events that inspired The Woman in White.

Volume: 60 Issue: 8 2010

The philosophical writings of the author of War and Peace inspired followers from Moscow to Croydon and led to the creation of a Christian anarchist reform movement. Charlotte Alston examines the activities and influence of Tolstoy’s disciples.

Volume: 60 Issue: 10 2010

When Penguin Books was acquitted of obscenity for publishing Lady Chatterley’s Lover, a door was kicked open to the social revolution of the 1960s. Geoffrey Robertson discusses the impact of the trial, a defining moment in modern legal history.

Volume: 60 Issue: 11 2010

The messages sent by British soldiers of the First World War to their loved ones back home have long been valued for what they tell us about daily life in the trenches. But their authors were often at pains not to reveal too much of the horror they endured. Anthony Fletcher considers what these documents reveal about the men’s inner lives.

Volume: 59 Issue: 11 2009

Sex, scandals and celebrity were all part of a blame and shame culture that existed in the 18th century, one that often fed off the misfortune of women at the hands of men. Julie Peakman looks at how prostitutes, courtesans and ladies with injured reputations took up the pen in retaliation.

Volume: 59 Issue: 8 2009
Simon Yarrow reviews a title on John Wyclif and Lollardism.

Janet Copeland introduces one of the most important feminist figures in twentieth-century history.

Issue: 63 2009

Byron’s love affair with bare-knuckle boxing was shared by many of his fellow Romantics, who celebrated this most brutal of sports in verse. John Strachan examines an unlikely match.

Volume: 59 Issue: 1 2009

Richard Cavendish provides an overview of the life of Daphne du Maurier, who was born on May 13th, 1907.

Volume: 57 Issue: 5 2007

Mark Bryant describes the life and works of Abu Abraham, the Observer’s first ever political cartoonist.

Volume: 57 Issue: 6 2007

Robin Evans examines the connections between language, culture and national identity in 19th-century Galicia.

Issue: 57 2007

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