The Public Domain Review

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Letters to Dead Authors (1886)

Tuesday 24 April 2018 at 15:11

Twenty-two letters written by Andrew Lang (1844–1912) to bards, poets, and novelists from Homer to Rabelais to Austen.


Made in Taiwan? How a Frenchman Fooled 18th-Century London

Wednesday 18 April 2018 at 18:28

Benjamin Breen on the remarkable story of George Psalmanazar, the mysterious Frenchman who successfully posed as a native of Formosa (now modern Taiwan) and gave birth to a meticulously fabricated culture with bizarre customs, exotic fashions, and its own invented language.


Hans Holbein’s Dance of Death (1523–5)

Tuesday 17 April 2018 at 17:37

Holbein's series of action-packed scenes in which Death intrudes on the everyday lives of people from various levels of society — from pope to physician to ploughman.


Häxan: Witchcraft Through The Ages (1922)

Wednesday 11 April 2018 at 18:47

Curious and groundbreaking mix of documentary and silent horror cinema, written and directed by Benjamin Christensen.


The Book of Exposition: A Collection of 15th-Century Erotica from the Middle East (1900)

Tuesday 10 April 2018 at 18:35

A collection of fifteenth-century erotica from the Middle East, translated with a lengthy opening essay by the anonymous English Bohemian.


Swedish House-Gymnastics (1913)

Thursday 5 April 2018 at 18:25

These wonderful photographs, which make such innovative use of multiple exposure, are from a 1913 book by Theodor Bergquist, Director of the Swedish Gymnastic Institute in the Bavarian spa town of Bad Wörishofen.


Fallen Angels: Birds of Paradise in Early Modern Europe

Wednesday 4 April 2018 at 18:17

When birds of paradise first arrived to Europe, as dried specimens with legs and wings removed, they were seen in almost mythical terms — as angelic beings forever airborne, nourished by dew and the "nectar" of sunlight. Natalie Lawrence looks at how European naturalists of the 16th and 17th centuries attempted to make sense of these entirely novel and exotic creatures from the East.


The Egg Dance: From Peasant Village to Political Caricature

Thursday 29 March 2018 at 15:52

The egg dance was a traditional Easter game involving the laying down of eggs on the ground or floor and dancing among them whilst trying to break as few as possible.


The Diverting History of John Gilpin: Shewing how he Went Further than he Intended, and Came Safe Home Again (1782)

Tuesday 27 March 2018 at 16:20

A 1906 edition of William Cowper's famous ballad, illustrated with brilliantly comic woodcuts from Robert Seaver.


Pens and Needles: Reviving Book-Embroidery in Victorian England

Wednesday 21 March 2018 at 18:14

Fashionable in the 16th and 17th century, the art of embroidering unique covers for books saw a comeback in late 19th-century England, from the middle-class drawing room to the Arts and Crafts movement. Jessica Roberson explores the bibliomania, patriotism, and issues around gender so central to the revival.