Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Fanny Burney in her own words

Born in 1752, Frances Burney (better known as Fanny Burney) was well known as a satirical novelist in her time, anonymously publishing her first book, Evelina, in 1778. Despite her literary influence, Fanny Burney is a name unknown to many aside from the most ardent scholars. Did you know, for instance, that the title of Jane Austen’s Pride and […]

Read More

The rightful heirs to the British crown: Wales and the sovereignty of Britain

The dating and chronology of the tales are problematic – they were probably written down sometime during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, against a background which saw the Welsh struggling to retain their independence in the face of the Anglo-Norman conquest. Although Wales had not developed into a single kingship, it certainly was developing a shared sense of the past, and pride in a common descent from the Britons.

Read More

The tortures of adapting Samuel Richardson’s ‘Pamela’

The term “bestseller” is a bit of a stretch for the eighteenth century, when books were expensive (though widely shared), and information about print-runs is hard to come by. But if any early novel deserves the title, it’s Samuel Richardson’s Pamela, which on publication in 1740 rapidly caught the imagination of Britain, Europe, and indeed America (the Philadelphia printing by Benjamin Franklin was the first unabridged American edition of any novel).

Read More

The continuing life of science fiction

In 1998 Thomas M. Disch boldly declared in The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of: How Science Fiction Conquered the World that science fiction had become the main kind of fiction which was commenting on contemporary social reality. As a professional writer, we could object that Disch had a vested interest in making this assertion, but virtually every day news items confirm his argument that SF connects with an amazingly broad range of public issues.

Read More
A Christmas Carol cover book

A classic christmas dinner with the Cratchits

“There never was such a goose. Bob said he didn’t believe there ever was such a goose cooked. Its tenderness and flavour, size and cheapness, were the themes of universal admiration. Eked out by apple-sauce and mashed potatoes, it was a sufficient dinner for the whole family; indeed, as Mrs Cratchit said with great delight (surveying one small atom of bone upon the dish), they hadn’t ate it all particular, were steeped in sage and onion to the eyebrows!”

Read More

There are two different types of Jane Austen fans

There is a theory current among many of my fellow Janeites about what kind of a Jane Austen devotee one can be. Either, it is said, one unreservedly cleaves to the Austen of Pride and Prejudice and Emma, or one emphatically embraces the Austen of Persuasion and Sense and Sensibility.

Read More

A lesson in allegorical storytelling [podcast]

National Novel Writing Month challenges writers from all over the world to complete a 50,000-word novel within the month of November. To help guide our readers who have taken on the challenge, we reached out to three-time National Jewish Book Award winner Howard Schwartz. Howard offers a deeper reading of “The Lost Princess,” and his analysis demonstrates the power of allegories as literary devices.

Read More

Resisting slavery

Once known by the name of “Bristol”, he gained notoriety as “Three-Fingered Jack”; the slave (anti)hero whose actions so fascinated the eighteenth-century imagination that his story was variously told and retold in popular treatises, novels, chapbooks, and plays.

Read More

Alain Locke, Charles S. Johnson, and the establishment of Black literature [excerpt]

In March of 1924, Charles S. Johnson, sociologist and editor of Opportunity: A Journal of Negro Life, approached Alain Locke with a proposal: a dinner was being organized with the intention to secure interracial support for Black literature. Locke, would attend the dinner as “master of ceremonies,” with the responsibility of finding a common language between Black writers and potential White allies.

Read More

Oscar Wilde’s lecture tour of the US

After Oscar Wilde graduated from Oxford, he moved to London and fell into unemployment and although he tried his hand at different jobs he couldn’t find any stable source of income. However, he did become friends with some of the celebrities of the day and attracted the attention of the caricaturist of Punch magazine, which eventually brought him to the attention of theatre promoter Richard D’Oyly Carte.

Read More

The ‘New Woman’ & American literature

In late 19th and early 20th-century America, a new image of womanhood emerged that began to shape public views and understandings of women’s role in society. With the suffrage and labor movements, the “new woman” emerged. These modern women were attending colleges, rejecting domesticity, asserting themselves politically in public, and becoming a part of the cultural landscape through literature. As the 12th century progresses, the voices of women pushed for more self-discovery and freedom from society’s traditional limitations.

Read More

All about quotations [quiz]

As Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, ‘By necessity, by proclivity, and by delight, we all quote’. Quotations are an essential part of language and are used widely by almost everyone, sometimes out of context and sometimes wrongly attributed.

Read More

This Side of Paradise —Looking Back, A Century Later

“He fancied that in a hundred years he would like having young people speculate on whether his eyes were brown or blue.” F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote these words in This Side of Paradise approximately a hundred years ago. While speculation on the eye color of Amory Blaine, Fitzgerald’s protagonist, may not currently be top of mind, the author himself, as well as his debut novel, most assuredly are.

Read More

Imagining lost books in the age of Cambridge Analytica

I don’t think it coincidental that, at approximately the same historical moment when online sites and services began (both overtly and covertly) preserving and mining our textual interactions en masse, wider culture evinced a perceptible surge of interest in the lost books of past, pre-digital eras.

Read More