“Frankenstein” Then and Now

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s novel Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus first appeared in print 200 hundred years ago, when the author was only 20. Since 1818, her boundary-breaking novel has become the most famous “Gothic” and Romantic-era text ever written, one of the founding works of science fiction, the inspiration for … Continue reading

British Theater Censorship in the Georgian Era

I am convening a conference at The Huntington titled “The Censorship of British Theatre, 1737–1843,” which will take place on Jan. 12 and 13 in The Huntington’s Rothenberg Hall. Leading experts on 18th- and 19th-century theater will explore the implications of statutory theater censorship as Britain grappled with issues of … Continue reading

Globalizing the Protestant Reformations

The origins of the Protestant Reformations are often traced to the German friar Martin Luther (1483–1546), who on Oct. 31, 1517, posted a document with 95 theses against the indulgence trade—in which donors paid the Catholic Church to remit punishment for sins. These theses began to outline Luther’s disputes with … Continue reading

The Rise of the Newspaper

Between 1600 and 1900, the newspaper began to occupy a central position in the modern societies of Europe and North America. These publications helped make information current and critical, legitimate and public. They served as the focal point of daily reading, as the frame for opinion-gathering and opinion-making, as the … Continue reading

Early Modern Collections in Use

In the first half of the 18th century, Hans Sloane (1660–1753)—the collector, physician, and president of the Royal Society—was the acknowledged center of a web of international relationships that brought objects, letters, and visitors into his house in the London suburb of Chelsea. He was recognized by scholars across Europe … Continue reading

Mining the Archive of Octavia E. Butler

The papers of award-winning science fiction writer Octavia E. Butler (1947–2006) came to The Huntington in 2008. By the time the collection had been processed and cataloged, more than 40 scholars had already asked for access. Today, the Octavia E. Butler Collection is one of the top two most actively … Continue reading

Fictive Histories and Historical Fictions

The last decade has seen a surge of interest in historical fiction. Led by Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies—novels that chronicle the rise to power of Thomas Cromwell (1485–1540) in the court of King Henry VIII—these stories have dominated bestseller charts and shortlists for literary prizes. Meanwhile, public appetite … Continue reading

Evelyn Waugh as Reader, Writer, Collector

Early in his life, the celebrated British writer Evelyn Waugh (1903–1966) thought he’d make furniture for a living; he also studied art. While he ultimately abandoned those paths, his desire to make beautiful things never ceased. Loren and Frances Rothschild’s 2013 gift of their Evelyn Waugh collection made The Huntington … Continue reading