Essay Library

There are currently 100 essays in the Library – please come in and browse.

Use the ‘additional suggestions’ box to tell us if your favourite essay or author is missing, or comment boxes on each essay’s page to discuss the selection, including where you feel we should have selected another essay by the same author. We will expand the Essay Library in future, using suggestions and comments received. Example intro length, with link to more if needed.

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A Letter (Ein Brief, 1902, collected in The Lord Chandos Letter and Other Writings, ed. John Banville, trans. Joel Rotenberg, 2005)

by Hugo Von Hofmannsthal

1902

While clearly fictional – this ‘letter’ purports to be sent in 1603 from the English Lord Chandos to Francis Bacon – this nonetheless merits categorization as an essay beca...

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A Defence of Poetry (Written 1821, first published posthumously in Essays, Letters from Abroad, Translations and Fragments, ed. Mary Shelley, 1840)

by Percy Bysshe Shelley

1821

Written in answer to his friend Thomas Love Peacock’s essay ‘The Four Ages of Poetry’ (1820), this begins as a treatise of ‘accurate philosophy’ but, aptly, evolves into ...

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A Chapter on Ears (London Magazine, March 1821, and reprinted in Elia, 1823)

by Charles Lamb

1821

After the most extreme example of Lamb’s periphrastic, ironic, Sternean style – ‘those exterior twin appendages, hanging ornaments and (architecturally speaking) handsome vol...

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A Berlin Chronicle (1932, but published only in 1970, from an incomplete manuscript)

by Walter Benjamin

1932

To test the power and processes of memory, Benjamin recollects splinters of his childhood and time as a young, pre-First World War revolutionary. But space, the depopulate...

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