Natural Histories

Pigs Might Try

Putting a pig on trial appears to defy logic, but in medieval France it gave rural folk the illusion of order in a frightening world. 

Bats: Out of Hell?

It took an Irish Gothic novelist to tie up centuries of demonic mythology surrounding this leathery, nocturnal mammal. 

The Jellyfish Problem

Plant, animal or other? The struggle to categorise jellyfish mirrors the desire to impose a hierarchy on the natural world.

Isle of Dogs

No canine character has played a more crucial role in literature than Bendicò in Lampedusa’s The Leopard.

For Whom the Bull Tolls

Ernest Hemingway’s love of bullfighting bordered on obsession. Did he see his own insecurities reflected in the ring?

Sexual Eeling

The slippery subject of eel reproduction evaded human understanding for millennia.

A History of Monkeys

From wall paintings in Egyptian tombs to the margins of illuminated manuscripts, we have always used portrayals of monkeys to express our more animal side.