When it was published on December 19th, 1843, Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol was an instant classic. As families settle in front of the fire to read it aloud on Christmas Eve, Oxford Professor of English Literature Robert Douglas-Fairhurst runs through the best of Dickens’s prolific writings about Christmas.
The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals
by Charles Darwin
Primate Visions: Gender, Race, and Nature in the World of Modern Science
by Donna J Haraway
Savages and Beasts: The Birth of the Modern Zoo
by Nigel Rothfels
Dolly Mixtures: The Remaking of Genealogy
by Sarah Franklin
Beastly Natures: Animals, Humans, and the Study of History
by Dorothee Brantz
Animals have played a significant role in human history, and the manner by which we interpret their behaviour says a lot about our own culture and social mores. Harriet Ritvo, professor of history at MIT, selects five of the best books from the field of animal history.
by Charles Lamb
Culture and Anarchy and Other Writings
by Matthew Arnold
Selected Essays, Poems, and Other Writings
by George Eliot
Studies in the History of the Renaissance
by Walter Pater
The Hands of the Living God: An Account of a Psychoanalytic Treatment
by Marion Milner
With the advent of the Victorian age, polite maxims of eighteenth-century essays in the Spectator were replaced by a new generation of writers who thought deeply—and playfully—about social relationships, moral responsibility, education and culture. Here, Oxford literary critic David Russell explores the distinct qualities that define the Victorian essay and recommends five of its greatest practitioners.
We often assume the Victorians had puritanical attitudes to sex, but this was far from the reality. From familiar classics to neglected gems, Claire Jarvis—Stanford academic and author of Exquisite Masochism: Sex, Marriage and the Novel Form—selects the best books on sex in Victorian literature.
Oscar Wilde cultivated an image of himself as an idle genius, dashing off masterpieces with a lazy brilliance. But below the glittering linguistic surface of his works, suggests Sos Eltis, lies an anarchic politics and a phenomenal analysis of power.
He was the most popular novelist of the Victorian era, a convivial family man who always championed the underdog. But he also harboured dark secrets that only came out after his death. Jenny Hartley recommends the best Charles Dickens books and discusses the phenomenon that was and is Charles Dickens.
Wilkie Collins, the sensationalist author and inventor of the detective novel, knew precisely how to “make ’em laugh, make ’em cry, make ’em wait”. Jason Hall, Victorian literature expert and editor of a new edition of Jezebel’s Daughter, chooses the five best books from Collins’s extensive oeuvre – and considers the voracious appetites and unorthodox lifestyle of this intriguing Englishman.
Arthur Conan Doyle wrote 56 short stories and four novels starring his fictional sleuth. Michael Dirda – Pulitzer Prize-winning critic, writer and lifelong Sherlockian – gives us his personal choice of the best Sherlock Holmes books and tells us more about their creator.
History books often focus on big political or economic events, wars and leaders. But there’s much to learn from studying the way people lived, and what made the Victorian age both like and unlike our own, as Judith Flanders explains.