William Makepeace Thackeray

The 50 Sexiest Literary Villains

In The Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy, open-mouthed, says “I’ve never heard of a beautiful witch before,” Glinda famously quips that only bad witches are ugly. But ’tis not so — or at least, there are plenty of very bad witches who are the opposite of ugly: beautiful, sexy, charming, devastatingly intelligent, or all of the above. So, in honor of J.K. Rowling’s outrage that we all love Draco so much, here’s 50 villains that we wouldn’t kick out of… Read More

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10 Literary Authors Who Illustrated Their Own Work

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the publication of The Hobbit, and as a result, we’ve been blessed with all manner of new Hobbit-related media coming to fruition. Inspired by the recently published compendium of Tolkien’s artwork, The Art of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, we decided to track down a few other literary authors who created illustrations for their works, whether published or unpublished.… Read More

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10 Novels That Deserve a Prequel

Today marks the US release of Skagboys, Irvine Welsh’s long-awaited prequel to his cult classic Trainspotting. Though in general we think the world has way too many prequels and sequels, we have to admit that we’re a little bit psyched to find out the origin stories of our favorite crew of tortured junkies. Welsh’s new book got us thinking about other classic and modern texts that we think could use a prequel — sure, it might be only to answer our own selfish lingering questions, but what else are prequels for? Click through to see the books we chose, and add your own suggestions in the comments — you never know, you just might get your wish. … Read More

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Preview The Morgan Library’s Massive Charles Dickens Exhibition

Charles Dickens would have turned 200 years old next year. To celebrate the bicentennial of the great Victorian novelist, The Morgan Library hosts Charles Dickens at 200, an exhibition of Dickens’ novels and stories, his letters, books, photographs, original illustrations, and caricatures as well as other personal effects. Organized by Declan Kiely, the Robert H. Taylor Curator and Department Head of Literary and Historical Manuscripts, the exhibit runs through February 12, 2012 and presents an ongoing series of gallery talks, lectures, and film screenings.

Among the offerings on view at the library are a portrait of Dickens at age 29 just a few months before he made his first trip to the US; an appeal to fallen women “anonymously” written (by Dickens) encouraging London prostitutes to enter a home Dickens created; a watercolor of Hungerford Stairs, which shows Warren’s Blacking Factory where Dickens worked as a 12-year-old boy wrapping boot-blacking bottles — a traumatic experience that worked its way into his novels; and many personal effects from seals to playbills. Following is a small sample of illustrations and effects you’ll see at this vast exhibit, which captures the art and life of the peerless literary superstar. … Read More

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History’s Most Distinguished Literary Hair

In preparation for Celebrating 100 Years, the New York Public Library’s centennial exhibition, the curators at the library have been handling some unusual bounty in the stacks: a lock of Frankenstein creator Mary Shelley’s hair, for example. Macabre as it seems, bestowing locks of hair on friends, family members, and lovers was common practice in the 19th century, and locks of hair from many renowned writers accompany the NYPL’s vast collections of manuscripts, notebooks, and letters.

This prompted us to seek out other literary DNA at the NYPL. With guidance from Elizabeth C. Denlinger of the library’s Pforzheimer Collection of Shelley & His Circle, Isaac Gewirtz, curator of the library’s Berg Collection of English and American Literature, and Jennifer Lam, we present you with the following gallery. For the next few months, you can see Mary Shelley’s hair, along with other artifacts from the NYPL’s collection, in person. For now, get ready for a rather intimate look at some famous literary hair. And if you’re still harboring an interest in famous authors’ hair, check out this piece on male writers’ unruly hairstyles. … Read More

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