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Explore Essays and memoir

What Feathers Know

Stephen Rutt

‘I see a gull in a car park and they can see the place where it metabolised water into feathers, food into energy, oxygen into blood.’ Stephen Rutt on what isotopes can tell us about birds.


Sigrid Rausing

‘What precisely is the sibling relationship, and how does it shape our lives?’

The editor introduces the autumn issue.

O Brother

John Niven

‘Up on the light box on the wall are the scans of Gary’s brain, bone white standing out against smoked grey.’

John Niven remembers the last days of his brother, Gary.

Plastic Mothers

Lauren John Joseph

‘In essence she acted as though I were the kid her mother had left her to raise.’

Lauren John Joseph on the blurred contours of motherhood.


Vanessa Onwuemezi

‘Brother, to be your sister is to confront the possibility of having been other than I am.’

Vanessa Onwuemezi on the meaning of sisterhood.

Miniature Twins

Omer Friedlander

‘We were so small, palm-sized, that our parents went to a doll shop in Jerusalem to find clothes that would fit us.’

Omer Friedlander writes about his twin.


Karolina Ramqvist

‘I asked her why she hadn’t told me I had a sister before, and she said she’d thought it was for my father to tell, since she was his child.’

Karolina Ramqvist on finding her estranged siblings, translated from the Swedish by Saskia Vogel.

A Little Closer

Angelique Stevens

‘We were twelve and thirteen and smoking cigarettes in our basement with friends – Mom and Dad at work, Hall & Oates on forty-five.’

Angelique Stevens recalls the year her sister went missing.

The Tiddler

Charlie Gilmour

‘It was a competition, though I hadn’t realised that yet.’

Charlie Gilmour on bullying.

The Stripping of Threads

Jamal Mahjoub

‘I hold no illusions about us being reunited. All of this has gone on for far too long.’

Jamal Mahjoub on family obligation and estrangement.

These Stolen Twins

Viktoria Lloyd-Barlow

‘In our household there was no distinction of feeling between those who were biologically related and those who were simply instructed to regard each other as such.’

Viktoria Lloyd-Barlow on growing up with foster siblings.


Andrew Miller

‘I note that my brother – he’ll deny it but he was always the moody one – has apparently refused to take Granny’s hand.’

Andrew Miller reflects on three family photographs.

The Pain Cave

Lauren Groff

‘I would rather have died of hypothermia than let my siblings win.’

Lauren Groff on competitiveness.

Ray & Her Sisters

Sara Baume

‘Ray is the only sister to win a scholarship to boarding school.’

Sara Baume tells the story of her grandmother’s life.