Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

New Grub Street and the starving artist

Sitting alone in front of a computer screen, a writer sometimes feels like screaming at the machine to make the words appear. When inspiration finally strikes, the result may be far from satisfying—but when your next meal is at stake, it hardly matters.

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The Time Machine: an audio guide

The first book H. G. Wells published, The Time Machine is a scientific romance that helped invent the genre of science fiction and the time travel story. Even before its serialization had finished in the spring of 1895, Wells had been declared “a man of genius,” and the book heralded a fifty year career of a major cultural and political controversialist.

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The making of Wells: from Bertie to H. G.

Youthful Bertie Wells was understandably depressed in the depths of winter in early 1888. He had escaped the drudgery of being a draper’s apprentice with a scholarship, only to flunk his second-year university exams and lose his funding to the Normal School of Science in Kensington.

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Reading War and Peace

Maybe you’ve read War and Peace; maybe you haven’t. Maybe you got part of the way through its 1,392 pages and lost the will to continue. (It happens to the best of us!) If you’re in one of the latter two camps, Brian E. Denton is here to change your mind. A freelance writer based in Queens, New York, Brian has read War and Peace seven times already and has no plans to stop there. I talked to Brian to find out what makes War and Peace so special

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A thousand and one translations

What do Jane Austen, William Makepeace Thackeray, Charles Dickens, Charlotte Brontë, Robert Louis Stevenson, Joseph Conrad, H.G. Wells, James Joyce, Salman Rushdie, and Hanan Al-Shaykh have in common?

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Christmas with the Little Women

With Christmas in less than two weeks, there is no better way to get in the holiday spirit than by revisiting one of our favorite Christmas scenes from classic literature.

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Which “little woman” are you? [quiz]

The twenty-ninth of November 2016, marked the 184th birthday of American author Louisa May Alcott, best known for her literary classic Little Women. Taking place in New England during the Civil War, Little Women follows Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy–four strong-minded sisters, each determined to discover and fulfill her destiny. Adapted for film six times, Little Women is a coming-of-age story that […]

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Woman as protagonist in BBC’s re-adaption of Conrad’s The Secret Agent

With the recent surge of interest in Conrad’s text following the programme airing in July, one needs to question the contribution that BCC’s adaption offers to the oeuvre of Conrad’s criticism. Tony Marchant’s adaption is acutely aware of global relevance of this text, noting that the “contemporaneity just hit[s]” you “in the face”. Yet, his production precisely fails in this presentation of terrorism.

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A literary Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has many historical roots in American culture. While it is typically a day spent surrounded by family and showing appreciation for what we are thankful for, we would all be lying if we did not admit that our favorite part is consuming an abundance of delicious food until we slip into a food coma.

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A literary tour of Ireland

Ireland is home to many great writers, from Bram Stoker and Jonathan Swift to Oscar Wilde and James Joyce. In this slideshow, Molly Grote, OUP publicist with a degree in British and Irish literature, takes us on a literary tour of Dublin.

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Lessons from the Song of Roland

What constitutes a person’s identity: family, country, religion? How do we resolve conflict: military action, strategy, negotiation? What turns a good man into a traitor?

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Arthur Conan Doyle: spirits in the material world

Sherlock Holmes is literature’s greatest rationalist; his faith in material reality is absolute. In his certainty, he resembles his creator; but not in his materialism. From the beginning of his writing career, Doyle was fascinated by the spirit world. One of his favourite literary modes, the Gothic, allowed him to explore the world of spirits and the supernatural, of vengeful mummies and predatory vampires, of ghosts and necromancers.

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“The Brazilian Cat” – an extract from Arthur Conan Doyle’s Gothic Tales

We’re eagerly preparing for Halloween this month by reading all of our creepy classics and spine-chilling tales. Below is an extract from “The Brazilian Cat”, one of many short stories from master of the gothic form Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Conan Doyle drew on his own medical background, his travels, and his increasing interest in spiritualism and the occult for his Gothic Tales. Read on if you dare…

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Lovecraft resurgent

Not many, however, noted that Stranger Things, with its murderous, tentacled creature unleashed through a trans-dimensional portal into a small town by the experiments of a mad professor, owed virtually everything to the imagination of H. P. Lovecraft. He composed these scenarios over eighty years ago in classic stories like ‘The Dunwich Horror’ and ‘The Shadow over Innsmouth’.

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