Articles & Essays

My writing on books, history, and culture has appeared in Financial TimesLiterary HubCrimeReadsAtlas ObscuraSmithsonianLapham’s QuarterlyThe GuardianSlateArt & ObjectThe AwlCollectors Weekly, Fine Books, Victoria, and JSTOR Daily, among others. 

Reviving Literary Legacies: When Women’s Stories Finally Get Told (Publishers Weekly, Feb. 29, 2024)

The 1887 Murder of an “Unknown Woman” That May Have Inspired Carolyn Wells (CrimeReads, Feb. 2024)

How I ‘Found’ Carolyn Wells, the Once Famous, Now Forgotten Mystery Author (Women Writers, Women’s Books, Feb. 2024)

Clues to the Forgotten (Fine Books, Winter 2024)

A National Collection of Artists’ Books (Fine Books, Summer 2023)

Playing-card collectors look for the art of the deal (Financial Times, 2023)

Bibliofiction: The Boom in Bookstore Novels (Fine Books, Winter 2023)

On the Groundbreaking Art of Bascove’s Book Covers (Lit Hub, May 2022)

The Man Who Walked Around the World, Collecting the Autographs of the Rich and Famous (Smithsonian, April 2022)

Hiding in Plain Sight: Newton’s Opticks (Fine Books, Spring 2022)

221 Pieces of Sherlock Holmes History on View in NYC (CrimeReads, January 2022)

9 Spine-Tingling True Crime Relics Sold in 2021 (CrimeReads, December 2021)

Words of wisdom in the world of the rare-book collectors (Financial Times, September 2021)

Sold: Sylvia Plath’s Rolling Pin and Recipes (Atlas Obscura, July 2021)

Here Be Dragons: The Art of Fantasy Illustration (Art & Object, June 2021)

“Horseshit!” Yes, Marlon Brando, Eclectic Bibliophile, Wrote in His Books (Lit Hub, June 2021)

The Cozy, Homey, Intricate Illustrations of Jan Brett (Lit Hub, May 2021)

Own a Complete Set of the Paperback Experiment That Paved the Way for Penguin (Lit Hub, February 2021)

The KGB Spy Gadgets that Fought the Cold War go to Auction (Art & Object, February 2021)

The Hotel at the Heart of the Hudson River School (Lapham’s Quarterly, November 2020)

A Collection of Rare Ian Fleming Books & Manuscripts Heads to Auction (CrimeReads, November 2020)

Behind the Mic with ArtCurious Host Jennifer Dasal (Art & Object, August 2020)

Sold: A Black Texan Trailblazer’s ‘Treasure Chest’ of Recipes (Atlas Obscura, June 2020)

Dora Maar: Picasso’s “Weeping Woman” Revealed (Art & Object, June 2020)

Sold: A 19th-Century ‘Chocolate Museum’ in a Box (Atlas Obscura, April 2020)

When “Serious” Writers Write Books for Kids: A NYC Book Collection Highlights Authors Who Dabbled in Children’s Lit (Lit Hub, April 2020)

Carolyn Wells, In the Library, With a Revolver: How a prolific mystery author with a penchant for collecting rare books helped to create the ‘biblio-mystery’ genre (CrimeReads, March 2020)

Georgia O’Keeffe’s ‘Seaweed’ takes a Tangled Path to Auction (Art & Object, February 2020)

A Rare Peek at Jerry Garcia’s Artwork (Art & Object, December 2019)

Chill Your Wine in John Steinbeck’s Silver Bucket (Lit Hub, October 2019)

Odd Lots: from the Estate of Anthony Bourdain (Art & Object, October 2019)

The Whimsical World of Rowland Emett (Art & Object, September 2019)

Rebuilding Jane Austen’s Library (Lapham’s Quarterly, July 2019)

Odd Lots: Plague Plaque (Art & Object, July 2019)

Previewing the First Ever LGBTQ+ Rare Books Auction (Lit Hub, June 2019)

Odd Lots: Squirrels Taking Tea (Art & Object, May 2019)

Vice and Virtue in the Newgate Novel: How 18th Century Crime Bulletins Inspired the Earliest Crime Fiction (And the Earliest Backlash Against Crime Fiction) (CrimeReads, April 2019)

At Long Last, a Celebration of the Gotham Book Mart (Fine Books & Collections, April 2019)

Odd Lots: 17th-Century Prisoner Graffiti (Art & Object, March 2019)

A World-Class Crime Collection Goes to Auction (CrimeReads, March 2019)

Odd Lots: Maurice Sendak’s “Wild” Cow (Art & Object, March 2019)

Odd Lots: 10 Love-Themed Items Head to Auction (Art & Object, February 2019)

Odd Lots: Holy Herbs (Art & Object, January 2019)

Flower Power: Hamilton’s Doctor and the Healing Power of Nature (Public Domain Review, January 2019)

Beautiful but Deadly: The Creepiest Devices from Medicine’s Grisly, Leech-Filled Past (Collectors Weekly, January 2019)

Byron Bling (Fine Books & Collections, Winter 2019)

Sword Swallowers and Shrunken Heads: An Ode to Johnny Fox and His Freakatorium (Collectors Weekly, October 2018)

Coney Island’s Incubator Babies (JSTOR Daily, August 2018)

Einstein’s Violin (Strings, July 2018)

A Rare Copy of Audubon’s ‘Birds of America’ Heads to Auction to Benefit Conservation (Audubon, June 2018)

Jackpot! 8 Recent Rare Book Finds in the Wild (Lit Hub, June 2018)

From Wallet to Typewriter, the Effects of Sylvia Plath are Now for Sale (Lit Hub, March 2018)

What Willa Cather Read (Slate, Feb. 2018)

Odd Lots: A Colonial potty, a kangaroo paw, and a carousel jester (The Awl, Jan. 2018)

Odd Lots: The crown jewels, a biblical “blook,” and a lobster weathervane (The Awl, Jan. 2018)

Is Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas a Work of Genius? (Lit Hub, Dec. 2017)

Odd Lots: Nazi Christmas ornaments, Wain’s famous cats, and dog-shaped whistles (The Awl, Dec. 2017)

Odd Lots: A mask from Beetlejuice, a cow’s uterus, and a bundle of barbed wire (The Awl, Dec. 2017)

Was Lydia E. Pinkham the Queen of Quackery? (JSTOR Daily, Nov. 2017)

Odd Lots: The Trumps’ wedding cake, an obscene snow globe, and Monet’s glasses (The Awl, Nov. 2017)

Odd Lots: Mourning jewelry, Obama’s scribbles, and a “short snorter” (The Awl, Oct. 2017)

Odd Lots: Penis mugs, Houdini’s handcuffs, and a souvenir from James Monroe’s disinterment (The Awl, Oct. 2017)

Art is Long, Life is Short: An exhibition at Bowdoin College Museum of Art… (Art & Object, Oct. 2017)

Odd Lots: Carrie Fisher’s stuff, a fortune-telling elephant, and mail from Jack the Ripper (The Awl, Oct. 2017)

Odd Lots: Curious Objects at Auction: A diorama, a lithographer’s stone, and W.B. Yeats’s desk (The Awl, Sept. 2017)

Henry D. Thoreau: Reader, Writer, #RESISTer (Fine Books & Collections, Fall 2017)

Odd Lots: Curious Objects Up At Auction/Vivien Leigh’s “Streetcar” wig, a medieval purse, and an ad for NY’s Museum of Anatomy (The Awl, Sept. 2017)

Odd Lots: Curious Objects Up At Auction/T.S. Eliot’s needlepoint, Sailors’ valentines, and Ronald McDonald (The Awl, August 2017)

Odd Lots: Curious Objects Up At Auction/Creepy folk art, Stephen Colbert’s desk, and a James Joyce LP (The Awl, July 2017)

Odd Lots: Curious Objects Up At Auction/Queen Victoria’s underwear, Einstein’s pipe, and a decorative whale tooth (The Awl, June 2017)

Odd Lots: Curious Objects Up At Auction/Bonnie Parker’s snake ring, “Yellow Submarine” bell, and an antique dildo (The Awl, June 2017)

Odd Lots: Curious Objects Up At Auction/Playboy Bunny costume, NYC sewer map, and a class portrait from 1853 (The Awl, June 2017)

Odd Lots: Curious Objects Up At Auction/Pharmacy Diorama, Parisian column, and a taxidermied peacock (The Awl, May 2017)

Odd Lots: Curious Objects Up At Auction/A Vial of Poison, a Spittoon, and Stanley Bard’s Art Collection (The Awl, May 2017)

A Few Way-Less-Catchy Discarded Titles for S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders (Slate, April 2017)

Odd Lots: Curious Objects Up At Auction/Patrick Swayze’s G-string, Churchill’s Cigar, and a Sample Book of Burial Monuments (The Awl, April 2017)

Odd Lots: Curious Objects Up At Auction/Anatomical Model, Newsprint Dress, Impeachment Ticket (The Awl, March 2017)

Peculiar Plates from the Original “Meatless Monday” (PASTE, March 2017)

Odd Lots: Curious Objects Up At Auction/Cockfighting Chair, Evelyn Waugh’s Ear Trumpet, Bird Automaton (The Awl, March 2017)

Odd Lots: Curious Objects Up At Auction/Elvis’s Rings, Bar-shaped Casket, Marilyn Monroe’s Grave Marker (The Awl, March 2017)

8 Famous Writers’ Desks You Could Have Owned (The Awl, February 2017)

Odd Lots: Curious Objects Up At Auction/Hitler’s Phone, Lizzie Borden’s Book, and a Wigmaker’s Set of Wooden Heads (The Awl, February 2017)

Odd Lots: Curious Objects Up At Auction/Studio 54 Invite, Brothel Bed, Pussycat Portraiture (The Awl, February 2017)

Odd Lots: Curious Objects Up At Auction/Amputation Kit, Dog Skeleton, and Neon Marquee (The Awl, January 2017)

The Top 10 Pieces of Doubleday’s Publishing History Slated for Auction (LitHub, January 2017)

Odd Lots: Curious Objects Up At Auction/Hamilton’s Hair, Oskar Schindler’s tchotchkes, and expired whiskey (The Awl, January 2017)

Odd Lots: Curious Objects Up At Auction/Penicillin Mold, Key to Oscar Wilde’s Prison Cell & Tim Burton’s Tile (The Awl, December 2016)

How Tragedy Drove a Bellevue Doctor to Become America’s First Illustrator (Slate, November 2016)

Is Audio Really the Future of the Book? (JSTOR Daily, November 2016)

Odd Lots: Curious Objects Up At Auction/Shrunken Heads, ‘Enchanted Tiki’ Dress & a Shakespearean Goblet (The Awl, November 2016)

Odd Lots: Curious Objects Up At Auction/A Literary Bottle, Pigeon Diplomas & Famous People’s Phone Numbers (The Awl, November 2016)

The return of The Marzipan Pig (The Guardian, October 2016)

‘E.T.’ Original Poster Artwork Expected to Fetch $150,000 at Auction (The Hollywood Reporter, October 2016)

Napoleon Bonaparte, failed novelist: manuscript goes to auction (The Guardian, September 2016)

Birdman of Alcatraz’s personal bird atlas to go to auction (The Guardian, August 2016)

A Visa for Che, the Young Traveler (Slate, June 2016)

Rare copy of Aristotle’s De Animalibus to be auctioned for first time in 125 years (The Guardian, May 2016)

Original Valley of the Dolls manuscript heads to auction (The Guardian, April 2016)

Tickets to Dissections and Lectures, Purchased by 18th- and 19th-Century Medical Students (Slate, March 2016)

Charlton Heston’s rare Shakespeare collection to go up for auction (The Guardian, March 2016)

JK Rowling’s ‘Harry Potter chair’ goes up for auction (The Guardian, March 2016)

‘Blook madness: inside the world of ‘bogus books’ (The Guardian, January 2016)

Five Books for Bibliomaniacs (B&N Review, December 2015)

Inside the Operating Theater: Early Surgery as Spectacle (JSTOR Daily, December 2015)

The Man Who Made Millions from Old Comics in a Closet (Literary Hub, December 2015)

An Intern Saved a Museum by Finding this Revolutionary War Treasure in the Attic (Smithsonian, December 2015)

Typists of the world, unite! (The Guardian, November 2015)

The Bard’s Book? An Epic eBay Buy (The Millions, November 2015)

Death becomes it: how the Morbid Anatomy Museum slayed Brooklyn (The Guardian, October 2015)

Charles Darwin letter repudiating the Bible heads to auction (The Guardian, September 2015)

George Braziller: the man who published Pamuk and Janet Frame in America (The Guardian, August 2015)

Rare Copy of Shakespeare’s Second Folio May Fetch $500,000 at Auction: The book, once owned by a famous 19th-century actor — and brother of John Wilkes Booth — is being sold to raise funds for a once-prestigious social club (The Guardian, June 2015)

The Vampire Virtuoso? Paganini’s Bloodletting Kit is for Sale (JSTOR Daily, April 2015)

The Heiresses Loved Strads: Anna and Huguette Clark owned eight Stradivaris, including a violin closeted in an abandoned New York City apartment for 20 years and still in limbo (Strings, Nov. 2014)

When Cather Met Crane (Drew Magazine, Spring 2014)

A Unique Collection of China at Auction (Tea Time, Nov./Dec. 2013)

Willa Cather Letters No Longer Off Limits, Thanks to New Anthology (Drew Magazine, April 2013)

Touring the Teapot (Tea Time, Jan./Feb. 2013)

Book Lover’s Gift Guide (Fine Books & Collections, Autumn 2008-2017)

Strange Beauty (Fine Books & Collections, Winter 2012)

Passing the Torch (Fine Books & Collections, Nov. 2011)

End of a Fairy Tale? (Preservation online, March 2010)

Dante, Transformed (Fine Books & Collections, March 2010)

A History of New York (Fine Books & Collections, Dec. 2009)

Google v. Gutenberg (Fine Books & Collections, Nov. 2009)

Pen, Men, Ship (Drew Magazine, Fall 2009)

Quirk(y) Classics (Fine Books & Collections, Sept. 2009)

Alone on an Island (Preservation online, July 2009)

Home is Where the Books Are (New York House, Nov. 2008)

Good Deal: The Art of Collecting Stock Certificates (Fine Books & Collections, May/June 2007, May/June 2008)

Gatsby Feud (Fine Books & Collections, July/August 2007)

Bookish Destinations: NYC (Fine Books & Collections, May/June 2007)

A House for Books (Fine Books & Collections, Jan/Feb 2007)

‘Visit from St. Nicholas’ takes trip to the bank (Albany Times-Union, Dec. 2006)

Book Reviews

San Francisco’s Plague Years (Distillations, September 2019)

Exhuming the Flu: Remembering the Spanish Flu 100 Years Later (Distillations, Fall/Winter 2019)

From Barbers and Butchers to Modern Surgeons (Distillations, Spring 2018)

Open Up and Say AAH! (The Awl, May 2017)

Plague Doctors and Cannibals: Food Fights is a Playful History of Cuisine (PASTE, January 2017)

Dr. Mütter’s Marvels: A True Tale of Intrigue and Innovation at the Dawn of Modern Medicine (Morbid Anatomy blog, Sept. 2014)

Do Not Sell At Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World’s Rarest 78rpm Records (Fine Books & Collections, July 2014)

Collecting Shakespeare: The Story of Henry and Emily Folger (Economist/Prospero, April 2014)

A Burnable Book (Fine Books & Collections, March 2014)

Cult Classic: Codex Seraphinianus (Fine Books & Collections, Nov. 2013)

Art Made From Books (Fine Books & Collections, Oct. 2013)

Huguette Clark’s Empty Mansions (Fine Books & Collections, Sept. 2013)

Summer Reading II: Stoker’s Manuscript (Fine Books & Collections, July 2013)

Astor Place Vintage (Fine Books & Collections, July 2013)

Turtle Diary (The Barnes & Noble Review, June 2013)

Summer Reading: The Bookman’s Tale (Fine Books & Collections, June 2013)

Austen’s Shawl (Fine Books & Collections, March 2013)

The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen (Fine Books & Collections, Jan. 2013)

The Ideal Bookshelf (Fine Books & Collections, Dec. 2012)

Shakespeare’s Tremors and Orwell’s Cough (Fine Books & Collections, Nov. 2012)

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore (Fine Books & Collections, Nov. 2012)

Bookstores, Booksellers, and Writers (Fine Books & Collections, Oct. 2012)

Handwritten Recipes: A Bookseller’s Collection (Fine Books & Collections, Oct. 2012)

Phantoms on the Bookshelves (Fine Books & Collections, Aug. 2012)

A Romance for Collectors (Fine Books & Collections, April 2012)

Tanselle’s Book Jackets (Fine Books & Collections, March 2012)

Mark My Words (Fine Books & Collections, Dec. 2011)

Is the Book History? (Fine Books & Collections, Aug. 2011)

Eco’s Confessions (Fine Books & Collections, June 2011)

Correspondence (Fine Books & Collections, May 2011)

By Association (Fine Books & Collections, March 2011)

Scarlett at 75 (Fine Books & Collections, Feb. 2011)

The Night Bookmobile (Fine Books & Collections, Dec. 2010)

Paper Chase (Fine Books & Collections, Aug. 2010)

Beauty and the Book (Fine Books & Collections, April 2010)

Reader in Wonderland (Fine Books & Collections, Feb. 2010)

Off the Map (Fine Books & Collections, Jan. 2010)


Meeting Mr. Dickens (Victoria, Nov./Dec. 2014)

Tea for Three (Tea Time, Nov./Dec. 2014)

Costume Drama (Victoria, Oct. 2014)

Keep Calm (Victoria, Sept. 2014)

Signed, Inscribed, and Saved (Victoria, July/August 2014)

Barefoot to Balanchine (Victoria, May/June 2014)

Rare Floral Folios (Victoria, March/April 2014)

A Winter Library (Victoria, Jan./Feb. 2014)

Classic Morrissey (The Awl, Oct. 2013)

Food for Thought (Syracuse New Times, July 2013)

Army Targets the Historic Home of Two Literary Sisters (Daily News/Page Views, March 2013)

The Warner Sisters lived on an island off West Point, New York, from 1837 until 1915. They wrote 89 books between them, including The Wide, Wide World, the first bestseller of the nineteenth century. Their historic home–and their literary legacy–is under siege.

A Rare Book Collector’s Guide to the College Library Book Sale (The Millions, Jan. 2012)

Double Fold, Double Jeopardy (The Millions, April 2011)

One Man’s Castle (New York House, Aug. 2010)

Strawberry Fields (New York House, June 2009)

Mommy, Crank it Up (Hudson Valley Parent, July 2008)

Tickle Me Reference: Elmo’s World and the Changes in our Research Environment (American Libraries, Nov. 2007)

Old Friends (WAMC Northeast Public Radio, June 2007)

A Critter for All Seasons (New York House, Feb. 2007)

Peace Moms (and Dads) (Literary Mama, Dec. 2006)