Trilby, the Novel That Gave Us ‘Svengali’

George du Maurier’s Trilby, published in 1894, became one of the most popular novels of its time. The story introduced us to a young heroine, Trilby, and a memorable villain, Svengali, whose names have since taken on lives of their own.

Source: Longreads
Published: Feb 16, 2017
Length: 7 minutes (1,788 words)

A Liberated Woman: The Story of Margaret King

Inspired by her governess, the radical feminist philosopher Mary Wollstonecraft, Margaret King cast aside her immense privilege, cross-dressed as a man to go to medical school, and inspired a new generation of women to push against the rigid conventions of their era.

Source: Longreads
Published: May 24, 2016
Length: 16 minutes (4,200 words)

The Inconvenient Astrologer Of MI5

The story of an astrologer who claimed in a 1941 keynote address that the stars indicated Hitler would invade the United States from Brazil and eventually be defeated. The astrologer, Louis de Wohl, was actually an agent for the British government:

“What no one realized was that de Wohl’s lecture was pure propaganda from the British government, which was attempting to drag the Roosevelt administration into WWII by any means necessary. De Wohl, who was employed by SOE (Special Operations Executive, the wartime sabotage unit), had been dispatched with instructions to present himself as a renowned astrologer with no connections to Britain, and to undermine America’s belief in the invincibility of Hitler. As the spy novelist William Boyd put it in a 2008 radio interview: ‘At the time, there was a perception of American people, in the minds of the British Security Services, that they were more gullible than us Brits.'”

Source: The Awl
Published: Apr 11, 2012
Length: 8 minutes (2,102 words)