Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Book thumbnail image

Paul Otlet, Google, Wikipedia, and cataloging the world

As soon as humanity began its quest for knowledge, people have also attempted to organize that knowledge. From the invention of writing to the abacus, from medieval manuscripts to modern paperbacks, from microfiche to the Internet, our attempt to understand the world — and catalog it in an orderly fashion with dictionaries, encyclopedias, libraries, and databases — has evolved with new technologies.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

How much do you know about early Hollywood’s leading ladies?

By Sarah Rahman
Clara Bow, whose birthday falls on 29 July, was the “it” girl of her time, making fifty-two films between 1922 and 1930. “Of all the lovely young ladies I’ve met in Hollywood, Clara Bow has ‘It,’” noted novelist Elinor Glyn. According to her entry in American National Biography, “With Cupid’s bow lips, a hoydenish red bob, and nervous, speedy movement, Bow became a national rage, America’s flapper. At the end of 1927 she was making $250,000 a year.”

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Akbar Jehan and the dialectic of resistance and accommodation

By Nyla Ali Khan
To analyze the personal, political, and intellectual trajectory of Akbar Jehan—the woman, the wife, the mother, and the Kashmiri nationalist, not simply an iconic and often misunderstood political figure—has been an emotionally tempestuous journey for me. The Kashmiri political and social activist is my maternal grandmother.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Daniel Mendoza: born on the 4th of July (249 years ago)

By Ronald Schechter
This past 5 July was Daniel Mendoza’s 250th birthday. Or was it? Most biographical sources say that Mendoza was born in 1764. The Encyclopedia Britannica, the Encyclopedia Judaica, Chambers Biographical Dictionary, and the Encyclopedia of World Biography all give 1764 for Mendoza’s year of birth, as do the the websites of the International Boxing Hall of Fame, the International Jewish Hall of Fame, WorldCat, and Wikipedia.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Songs for the Games

By Mark Curthoys
Behind the victory anthems to be used by the competing teams at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, which open on 23 July, lie stories both of nationality and authorship. The coronation of Edward VII in 1902 prompted the music antiquary William Hayman Cummings (1831-1915) to investigate the origin and history of ‘God Save the King’.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Margot Asquith’s Great War diary

Margot Asquith was the opinionated and irrepressible wife of Herbert Henry Asquith, the Liberal Prime Minister who led Britain into war on 4 August 1914. With the airs, if not the lineage, of an aristocrat, Margot knew everyone, and spoke as if she knew everything, and with her sharp tongue and strong views could be a political asset, or a liability, almost in the same breath.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

How much do you know about the First World War?

From Haig to Kitchener, and Vera Lynn to Wilfred Owen, how well you know the figures of the First World War? Who’s Who highlights the individuals who had an impact on the events of the Great War. Looking through Who’s Who, we are able to gain a snapshot of the talents and achievements of these individuals, and how they went on to influence World War One history.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

English convent lives in exile, 1540-1800

By Victoria Van Hyning
In the two and a half centuries following the dissolution of the monasteries in England in the 1530s, women who wanted to become nuns first needed to become exiles. The practice of Catholicism in England was illegal, as was undertaking exile for the sake of religious freedom.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

“Stretch” Johnson, my father

By Wendy Johnson
In the grim period of McCarthyism during the 50s, Howard “Stretch” Johnson, my father, fought for freedom of thought and speech, protesting the persecution of artists and intellectuals. Despite the fact that he had grown away from the Communist Party, with the 22nd Congress of the Communist Party and the revelations of Stalin’s bloody deeds, Stretch stood trial and refused to denounce his comrades.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Mary Lou Williams, jazz legend

Wednesday, 28 May marks the 33rd anniversary of Mary Lou William’s death. Mary Lou Williams, an African-American keyboardist, composer, arranger, and contemporary of both Ella Fitzgerald and Lena Horne, is often overlooked as a key contributor to the jazz movement of the 20th century.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Unknown facts about five great Hollywood directors

Today, 11 May, marks the anniversary of the founding of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1927. It wouldn’t be until 1928 until the award selection and nomination process was established, but this elite group of actors, directors, writers, technicians, and producers were leaders in the early film industry.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Five facts about Dame Ethel Smyth

By Christopher Wiley
The 8th May marks the seventieth anniversary of the death of Dame Ethel Smyth, the pioneering composer and writer, at her home in Hook Heath, near Woking. In the course of her long and varied career, she composed six operas and an array of chamber, orchestral, and vocal works, challenging traditional notions of the place of women within music composition.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Writing a graphic history: Mendoza the Jew

By Ronald Schechter
Let me begin with a confession. I used to be a snob when it came to comics. I learned to read circa 1970 and even though my first books were illustrated, there was something about the comic format – the words confined to speech and thought bubbles and the scenes subdivided into frames – that felt less than serious. The only time I remember being allowed to buy comic books was when I had just been to the doctor’s office.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Illustrating a graphic history: Mendoza the Jew

By Liz Clarke
The illustration of a graphic history begins with the author’s script. There are two aspects to turning that script into artwork. It’s both a story, calling for decisions to be made about the best way to present the narrative visually, and a history, rooted in fact and raising questions about what the places and people (and their furniture and transportation and utensils) would actually have looked like.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

“A peaceful sun gilded her evening”

On 31 March 1855 – Easter Sunday – Charlotte Brontë died at Haworth Parsonage. She was 38 years old, and the last surviving Brontë child. In this deeply moving letter to her literary advisor W. S. Williams, written on 4 June 1849, she reflects on the deaths of her sisters Anne and Emily.

Read More