Miscellanies

Miscellanies is History Today's free weekly long read. Every Thursday, we publish a specially commissioned essay or long read from our archive. The subject? History. As the name suggests, we can’t be more specific…

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The Spanish Witches of Cartagena

The Spanish Inquisition arrived in the New World convinced of the existence of heretics and witches. Learning to navigate the Inquisitors’ demonic expectations was one way to survive, as shown by the case of Paula de Eguiluz.

The Myths and Realities of Ping-Pong Diplomacy

When the United States’ table tennis team was invited to China in 1971, the trip was about far more than sporting competition. Dubbed ‘ping-pong diplomacy’, it heralded a thaw in diplomatic relations between the two nations.

Revolting Romantics

The story of a young William Blake warning Thomas Paine of impending danger is one of the great myths of English Romanticism. But did it happen?

The Autograph Fiend

There was no known remedy available to help those afflicted with ‘autographomania’. Spreading far and wide in the late 19th century, the obsession with collecting autographs held ‘all sorts and conditions of men in its deadly grip’.

Challenger and Chernobyl, Cold War Catastrophes

In 1986, the world’s superpowers were each rocked by disasters occurring just three months apart. Technological prowess had driven the Cold War: what did it mean for it to fail in such catastrophic circumstances? 

John F. Kennedy’s Warning to the Republic

A Cold War thriller imagined the United States caught in the midst of a military coup. Surprisingly, it was endorsed by the president himself, who recognised its power as a cautionary tale.

The Sámi on Camera

Photographs of the Sámi taken in the 19th and 20th centuries act as ‘emotional archives’, offering an alternative history of Europe’s longest surviving indigenous people.  

The Electric City

London’s West End came to life in the late 19th century, its glamorous attractions illuminated by innovations in electric light. The night, once associated with peril and danger, was reclaimed for leisure.

Edith Wharton’s Moroccan Clichés

In 1917, the American novelist Edith Wharton travelled in Morocco seeking ‘barbaric splendor’ and an escape from war-torn Europe. Her French colonial hosts, keen to gain US support for their Protectorate, were happy to oblige.

The Afterlives of the International Brigades

Despite defeat in the Spanish Civil War, veterans of the International Brigades would soon face fascism again. Experiences and connections forged in Spain would prove key in the fight against Hitler and beyond.