The Public Domain Review

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The Secret History of Holywell Street: Home to Victorian London’s Dirty Book Trade

Wednesday 29 June 2016 at 16:51

Victorian sexuality is often considered synonymous with prudishness, conjuring images of covered up piano legs and dark ankle-length skirts. Historian Matthew Green uncovers a quite different scene in the sordid story of Holywell St, 19th-century London's epicentre of erotica and smut.


Marvels of Things Created and Miraculous Aspects of Things Existing

Tuesday 28 June 2016 at 17:48

Images from an exquisitely illustrated Persian translation, thought to hail from 17th-century Mughal India, of Zakariya al-Qazwini's medieval treatise on all things wondrous.


Guess Me (1879)

Wednesday 22 June 2016 at 12:50

Illustrated by George Cruikshank among others, a collection of word, number, and picture puzzles in the form of enigmas, conundrums, acrostics, and a series of incredibly tricky rebuses.


Max Brückner’s Collection of Polyhedral Models (1900)

Tuesday 21 June 2016 at 16:36

Collection of stellated and uniform polyhedra belonging to Max Brückner , a German geometer.


Frankenstein, the Baroness, and the Climate Refugees of 1816

Wednesday 15 June 2016 at 18:34

It is 200 years since The Year Without a Summer, when a sun-obscuring ash cloud — ejected from one of the most powerful volcanic eruptions in recorded history — caused temperatures to plummet the world over. Gillen D’Arcy Wood looks at the humanitarian crisis triggered by the unusual weather, and how it offers an alternative lens through which to read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, a book begun in its midst.


Album of Seaweed Pictures (1848)

Tuesday 14 June 2016 at 13:45

Fine specimen of a 19th-century seaweed album, in which marine algae is rendered into designs, bouquets, and even sometimes intricate little scenes.


The Difficulty of Ruling over a Diverse Nation (1578)

Thursday 9 June 2016 at 16:52

16th-century Dutch engraving depicting a fantastical animal with the heads of various other animals sprouting from its body: an allegory for the difficulty of ruling over a diverse nation.


Fables for the Frivolous (1899)

Wednesday 8 June 2016 at 18:09

One of the earliest works by the American parodist Guy Wetmore Carryl, this collection of fables are adapted from Jean de La Fontaine's Aesop-style originals from more than 200 years earlier.


The Magic Roses (1906)

Thursday 2 June 2016 at 17:48

A film by the pioneering Spanish film director, cinematographer and screenwriter Segundo Chomón.


Francis van Helmont and the Alphabet of Nature

Wednesday 1 June 2016 at 18:15

Largely forgotten today in the shadow of his more famous father, the 17th-century Flemish alchemist Francis van Helmont influenced and was friends with the likes of Locke, Boyle, and Leibniz. While imprisoned by the Inquisition, in between torture sessions, he wrote his Alphabet of Nature on the idea of a universal natural language. Je Wilson explores.