An atheist martyr
This review of How modern life emerged from eighteenth-century Edinburgh introduced me to Thomas Aikenhead who, in 1687, aged 18, was hanged for his beliefs.
On the scaffold, Aikenhead declared that he had come to doubt the objectivity of good and evil, and that he believed moral laws to be the work of governments or men.
It looks like a must-read book, but the review is a good place to start.
"Will you walk into my parlour? said the Spider to the Fly."
I suspect that line was a part of many people's childhoods, yet I hadn't realised either how old it was or that the poem was by a woman, Mary Botham Howitt (1799- 1888), who I learnt about from the Women writers group.
She had an adventurous life, in which she and her husband sought a variety of outlets and venues in which to make money from writing, in contact with Dickens, Mrs. Gaskell, Tennyson, Wordsworth and others, finally settling in Rome.
There's a short biography here, and the poem, if you're trying to remember the words, here.
As if I didn't have enough to read, I've recently signed up for the Taylor & Francis journals daily keyword searches (although don't ask me exactly how, the website being rather less than user-friendly), which is throwing up all sorts of interesting things, or at least the abstracts thereof, e.g. "Contemporary feminist writers: envisioning a just world" in the Contemporary Justice Review.
"A vision of feminist social justice emerges in the writings of contemporary American women writers Toni Morrison, Joy Harjo, Barbara Kingsolver, and Adrienne Rich. Their collective bodies of work envision a world that does not devalue and separate people, a world connected to ideals of justice grounded in the interrelationships of words and deeds. These writers argue that we need to create a new way of seeing and interacting with the world around us, recognizing our individual responsibilities for creating better communities, questioning government actions, and seeking, above all, a society that sustains people regardless of gender, race, class, ethnicity, sexuality, or access to resources."