Writers

The bold, brilliant Mary Wroth with a string instrument called a theorbo, circa 1620.

The Secret Codes of Lady Wroth, the First Female English Novelist

The Renaissance noblewoman is little known today, but in her time she was a notorious celebrity

Plath's recipe cards and rolling pin reflect her love of cooking—and her conflicted relationship with domestic life.

Explore Sylvia Plath's Love Letters, Recipe Cards and Tarot Deck

A trove of the American poet's personal possessions recently sold at auction for more than $1 million

Max Brod, a fellow writer and the literary executor of Kafka's estate, preserved the newly digitized collection of letters, manuscripts and drawings.

You Can Now Explore an Unseen Trove of Franz Kafka's Personal Papers Online

The National Library of Israel has digitized a rare collection of the "Metamorphosis" author's letters, drawings and manuscripts

Highlights of the upcoming sale include this 1841 birthday note from Emily Brontë to her sister Anne.

Unseen Trove of Literary Treasures, From Emily Brontë's Handwritten Poems to Robert Burns' Musings, Up for Sale

Sotheby's is set to auction a private collection of 500 manuscripts, first editions, letters and papers linked to famed British authors

Bran Castle is relying on its connections to the puncture-happy vampire Dracula to entice people to get vaccinated. Here, masked visitors stand in front of a sign depicting syringes as vampire fangs.

Covid-19

'Dracula's Castle' Is Now Offering Visitors Free Covid-19 Vaccinations

Bran Castle's connections to the vampire may be as mythic as the monster himself, but the site remains a popular Romanian attraction

Peter Mark Roget compiled his influential thesaurus late in life.

Before He Wrote a Thesaurus, Roget Had to Escape Napoleon's Dragnet

At the dawn of the 19th century, the young Brit got caught in an international crisis while touring Europe

An engraving from German zoologist Ernst Haeckel's Kunstformen Der Natur, a 1904 book that celebrated the symmetry of nature

From Books Bound in Human Skin to Occult Texts, These Are Literature's Most Macabre, Surprising and Curious Creations

A new tome takes readers into collector Edward Brooke-Hitching's "madman's library"

Self-educated scholar Dennis McCarthy has spent the past 15 years studying the many connections between Shakespeare and little-known translator and writer Sir Thomas North.

Did Shakespeare Base His Masterpieces on Works by an Obscure Elizabethan Playwright?

The new book "North by Shakespeare" examines the link between the Bard of Avon and Sir Thomas North

A 1928 photograph of Ernest Hemingway, held in the collections of the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery, was taken in Paris by the artist Man Ray after the legendary writer suffered a life-threatening head injury.

In Search of the Authentic Ernest Hemingway

An upcoming PBS documentary prompts a deep-dive into the story behind this rarely published Smithsonian portrait of the legendary writer

This month's book picks include The Light of Days, The Musical Human and Empire of Ants.

Books of the Month

Women Resistance Fighters of WWII, the Secret Lives of Ants and Other New Books to Read

These April releases elevate overlooked stories and offer insights on oft-discussed topics

Explore the true history and myths behind six “terrible” women, from the all-knowing Sphinx to the fire-breathing Chimera and the lesser-known shapeshifter Lamia.

Men Have Feared Women for Millennia. Just Look at the Monsters of Greek Mythology

A new collection of essays considers how the villainous women of classical antiquity, from Medusa to the Sphinx, resonate in contemporary Western society

Through her literary works, “Kindred”, “Bloodchild”, “Parable of the Sower”, Butler explored themes of global warming, gender equality, political disparity and racism and as a result is known as the “mother” of Afrofuturism.

Mars' Perseverance Landing Site Named After Science Fiction Author Octavia E. Butler

The Jezero crater location has been named 'Octavia E. Butler Landing' in honor of the late literary giant

“It’s not a historical museum,” Henrik Lübker says. “It’s more an existential museum.”

This Hans Christian Andersen Museum Asks You to Step Into a Fairy Tale

Opening soon in the storyteller's hometown of Odense, Denmark, the museum allows visitors to experience his multilayered stories

Irmgard Keun’s disappearing act, amid the general chaos of Germany in the interwar and post-war periods, makes piecing together the author’s life a bit of a challenge.

The Extraordinary Disappearing Act of a Novelist Banned by the Nazis

Driven into exile because of her work’s “anti-German” themes, Irmgard Keun took her own life—or did she?

This 1465 fresco by Domenico di Michelino depicts Dante, holding a copy of The Divine Comedy, next to the entrance to hell.

Follow Dante Into Purgatory With Online Exhibition of 'Divine Comedy' Drawings

The Uffizi Gallery's digital show features 88 illustrations by 16th-century artist Federico Zuccari

The Lord of the Rings author lived at 20 Northmoor Road on the outskirts of Oxford, England, between 1930 and 1947.

Controversial Crowdfunding Campaign Hopes to Turn J.R.R. Tolkien's House Into a Center for Creativity

The Tolkien Society has raised concerns about Project Northmoor, which is trying to raise $6 million by next March

Volunteers with the Navajo & Hopi Families Covid-19 Relief Fund distribute food and other essential supplies to isolated communities and farmsteads on Navajo Nation and Hopi lands. As part of the Smithsonian's virtual program 24 Hours in a Time of Change, Shandiin Herrera (Diné)—seated on the left, wearing a Duke University sweatshirt—describes how this grassroots response to the COVID-19 pandemic came together last March and shares her experiences as the fund's volunteer coordinator in Monument Valley, Utah.

Smithsonian Voices

Smithsonian Wants Your 2020 Stories

This Friday, December 11, 2020, ten Smithsonian museums and cultural centers offer a moment for reflection and sharing

Erle Stanley Gardner is best remembered as a novelist. But he was also a lawyer deeply concerned about victims of injustice. “It is too easy to convict innocent persons,” he wrote in a 1959 letter to FBI director J. Edgar Hoover.

The Case of the Autographed Corpse

The author of the Perry Mason novels rose to the defense of an Apache shaman who was falsely convicted of killing his wife

A rare edition of Shakespeare's First Folio sold at auction for $10 million.

Shakespeare's First Folio Is the Most Expensive Work of Literature Ever Auctioned

A rare edition of the 1623 volume of plays sold at Christie's for nearly $10 million

Louise Glück, an esteemed American poet and teacher, won this year's Nobel Prize in Literature.

American Poet Louise Glück Wins Nobel Prize in Literature

The esteemed writer and teacher previously won the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry