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Explore Essays and memoir

1 April 2020

Michael Hofmann

‘Living on money from the government, excused our duties and our liabilities, reducing our wants to eating and sleeping and what in the eighteenth century may have passed for exercise, the alderman’s stroll.’

Le Flottement

Janine di Giovanni

‘Their lives were halted in time, a predicament they accepted with grace, sometimes even with humor. They appeared to be floating.’

The Museum of Whales You Will Never See

A. Kendra Greene

‘The Icelandic Phallological Museum is smaller than you’d think. The domestic collection of 212 specimens fits in one room.’ 

Feeling Bullish: On My Great-Uncle, Gay Matador and Friend of Hemingway

Rebekah Frumkin

‘In his suit, with his pigtail and his montera, he was pure potential: he could be masculine vanquisher or gold-embroidered fairy. He was both, actually, at all times, and nobody who came to see him fight thought any less of him for it.’

Notes on Craft

Caoilinn Hughes

‘I like to feel contradicted and conflicted by characters.’

The Covid-19 pandemic

Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall on animal welfare, the long history of zoonotic diseases and what we must learn from Covid-19.

The Kobold

Daisy Hildyard

In a plain material sense the condition of being alive is that of living inside this contradiction – being membrane-bound.

Qualities of Earth

Rebecca May Johnson

‘Allotment earth is like the cache on a public computer, it holds too much information.’


Anouchka Grose

‘What a strange, terrible, exciting present – something you have to defile in order to appreciate.’


Ruchir Joshi

‘I was close to my own father, which many people are not.’

Ruchir Joshi remembers his son.

What History Tells us about Epidemics

Sandra Hempel

‘From when we first began living together in settlements, bacteria and viruses were with us, replicating, mutating and jumping species with extraordinary agility.’

The Lessons We Choose

Beth Gardiner

This will not be the last crisis. What can we learn from this one?

The Medical Detective

Sandra Hempel

An extract from Sandra Hempel’s The Medical Detective, which follows the story of the man who identified – and helped stop – the cholera pandemic of the 1830s.

From the Spanish Flu to Covid-19

Reina James

Reina James compares our response to Covid-19 to the reaction to the Spanish Flu in 1918.