The Doubting Antiquity School were sceptics of ancient Chinese texts’ historical veracity… until the oracle bones were deciphered.
The 19th century Scottish author Emily Gerard collected local legends about a school of black magic high in the mountains of Transylvania.
At the same time she was writing the novel Little Women, Louisa May Alcott also wrote one of the first stories to feature an Egyptian mummy’s curse.
People suffering from Uncombable Hair Syndrome have silvery hair that resists all attempts to comb, brush, or otherwise groom it.
What do the bicycle, Marmite, Mormonism, and Frankenstein have in common? A volcano in Indonesia.
Twenty-nine chapters of the Quran begin with short sequences of Arabic letters. We’re not actually certain what these “mysterious letters” mean.
In 1931 fourteen members of writers’ collective the Detection Club – including Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, G. K. Chesterton, and Ronald Knox – wrote a mystery novel together… one chapter each.
In 1929 Ronald Knox codified the ten rules that all detective fiction should follow.
Some gardens grow only the plants mentioned in either the Bible or the works of Shakespeare.
The Asterix comics are notorious for obscure puns, but the most obscure may be the one used in Asterix and Cleopatra.
The earliest fully recorded game of modern chess – from the 15th century CE – is a poem about love.
Lord Dunsany was an early 20th century fantasist whose writing inspired Tolkien, H. P. Lovecraft, and many others. He also invented a chess variant where one side has 32 pawns and no other pieces.
The 1845 German children’s book Der Struwwelpeter features cruel consequences for bad behaviour, including a terrifying tailor who does not care for thumb-suckers.
On June 25, 1900, tens of thousands of important historical manuscripts were found in a secret room within the Caves of the Thousand Buddhas in Dunhuang, China, where they had been hidden for nearly a millennium.
The 2001 novel Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn depicts a town in which a totalitarian government begins banning letters – from the town and from the novel itself.
We know how Chinese was pronounced 1400 years ago thanks to the world’s oldest surviving rhyming dictionary.