How Herman Melville Foresaw the Rise of Donald Trump

Donald Trump sold himself to the American electorate as an ordinary guy who could make America great again. Alexander McDonnell suggests that the dangers posed to American society by the trickster who promises a great future on the basis of past myths were presciently foreseen by Herman Melville in his 1857 satire, The Confidence-Man. What... Continue Reading →

The Surprising Links Between Paradise Lost and the Qur’an

Christianity and Islam are sometimes presented in terms of a clash of civilisations. In this light, it may be surprising to discover that John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost – which reimagines the biblical creation story – included elements drawn from Islam and the Qur'an. Sharihan Al-Akras explains more in this research conversation with READ, based on a... Continue Reading →

Debating Margaret Thatcher’s Legacy

More than twenty-five years after she left office, Margaret Thatcher remains a controversial figure, and recent political events suggest that her legacy continues to be felt today. We asked Antony Mullen, organiser of a forthcoming conference on Thatcher and Thatcherism and founder of the Thatcher Network, about the challenges and advantages of reevaluating the history and influence of the... Continue Reading →

Islands in Ink

We're all guilty of relying too much on GPS to find our way around, so what mayhem would ensue if Google Maps simply started... making things up? Following a research visit to the British Library, Alasdair Macfarlane examines the mysterious case of an imaginary island and reveals how seventeenth-century travel guides – thanks to the... Continue Reading →

The Kensington Poltergeist

This Halloween, try to solve the mystery of a Victorian poltergeist that haunted two ladies in a house in Kensington. The story is taken from a report in The Standard, 23 January 1868; it is one of several historical ghost stories anthologised by Richard Sugg in his forthcoming book, A Century of Ghosts Stories: 100 Original Ghost Cases from... Continue Reading →

Northern (Power)House of God

Ahead of Gavin Wakefield's upcoming Durham Book Festival event, The Northern Powerhouse and God: Searching for the Angel of the North, Gašper Jakovac discusses the religious roots of the North-South divide. In the essay collection Northern Gospel, Northern Church: Reflections on Identity and Mission, the editors Gavin Wakefield and Nigel Rooms, together with other contributors, ask what seems... Continue Reading →

The Brontë Diaries: Anne’s Anxieties

The diaries of Emily Brontë focus on domestic life in Haworth, whereas Anne's occasional entries are less concerned with immediate events and more speculative about the future. In this final post in a series of three unveiling the diaries of Emily and Anne Brontë, Sophie Franklin explores her anxieties. Unlike Emily’s entries, Anne’s diary papers are punctuated and more formal... Continue Reading →

The Politics of Fact and Fiction

Ahead of Alan Johnson's Durham Book Festival event, Antony Mullen examines the genre of the political memoir. Do literary depictions of history, he asks, complicate the traditional distinctions between "fact" and "fiction"? As Christmas approaches each year, the shelves of book shops begin to fill up with the memoirs of former ministers. This year sees... Continue Reading →

The Brontë Diaries: Emily’s Homely Life

Emily Brontë was not a prolific diary-keeper, but the journals she did record give us an insight into life at Haworth parsonage. In this second of three posts exploring the diaries of Emily and Anne Brontë, Sophie Franklin turns the pages and crosses the threshold of the writer's home and her unfathomable mind. The six fragments written... Continue Reading →

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