Francesca Peacock

'Mother Julian', illustrated by Stephen Reid.

Solitude standing

From medieval anchoresses to poets, singers, and writers throughout the ages, seclusion is often seen as a particularly female act. But a closer look reveals a more nuanced history, which speaks to society’s romantic fixation on the lone woman. 

Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen, London, June 1974. Credit: Michael Putland/Getty Images.

Genius has its limits

Many 20th century rock stars have harboured literary pretensions and written novels and poems. The mercurial quality of their efforts shows that at least some of them should just stick to music.

Why bittersweet beats SOUR

Early twentieth-century poet Edna St Vincent Millay’s laconic verse is an antidote to modern pop’s cult of heartbreak.

The original women in STEM

Women played a vital role in the early history of botany – let’s not reduce their contribution to kitsch romance.

The many meanings of Georgia O’Keeffe

We should take inspiration from Georgia O’Keeffe’s high-minded approach to art and morality. Her life story is a lesson in the importance of deeply felt principles.

Singing Byrd in a cage

Tudor composer William Byrd concealed his true faith in music – and his yearning for a return to better times resonates with us today in the chimes of the chapel choir.

Thank goodness for gardens

Throughout history communal spaces have provided refuge and reconnection. We need them more than ever.

Good poetry in a crisis

Seamus Heaney’s poems are a valuable, moving register of individual intimacy and national pain.

Milton vs the echo chamber

Milton would have been very active on Twitter. In 1644 – at the height of the English Civil War – he wrote Areopagitica: a polemic prose treatise

First orders please

On Saturday, pubs re-opened in England. It was a day politicians had dubbed ‘super Saturday’, although much of the press hailed it ‘sardine Saturday’. A

Any old way you use it

What do Dolly Parton, U2, and Woodie Guthrie have in common? Respectively, each artist has had a song used on the American Presidential campaign trail:

Subscribe to Engelsberg Ideas

Receive the Engelsberg Ideas weekly email from our editorial team.

By subscribing, you consent to us contacting you by email. You may unsubscribe at any time, and we’ll keep your personal data safe in accordance with our privacy policy.