Opinions and analysis from Lapham’s Quarterly writers and editors.

May 6, 2015

April 16, 2015

The Nun’s Story

By Sarah Laskow

In August 1835, Isabella Mills received a strange visit at her home in Montreal. A man whom she had never seen before but who was “decently dressed,” as she’d report later, told her that he had come to the city with her daughter and her daughter’s five-week-old baby. The stranger also told her something that surprised her even more than the news that she had become a grandmother: her daughter Maria, who had not yet turned twenty, had “been in a nunnery”—and she had been very badly treated there.

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April 15, 2015

Learning from Lincoln

By Angela Serratore

On April 14, 1865, John Wilkes Booth shot Abraham Lincoln as the sixteenth president enjoyed a production of “Our American Friend” at Ford’s Theater in Washington, DC. Early the next morning, Lincoln died in a boarding house across the street—the first American president to be assassinated. With Lincoln’s death, the divided country lost not just its leader but one of its wisest thinkers, a man who had something to say on nearly every subject, and then some.

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April 15, 2015

Creative Accounting

By Michelle Dean

For writers, self-employment brings with it artistic freedom and a tax nightmare. For the novelist Patricia Highsmith, living abroad solved exactly none of her tax problems.

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April 09, 2015

The Gatsby Index

By Heather O’Donnell

This week marks the ninetieth anniversary of The Great Gatsby, first published on April 10, 1925. Gatsby enjoys such an iconic status among American novels that it’s easy to forget what a disappointing seller the book was for F. Scott Fitzgerald. His 1920 debut, This Side of Paradise, had been a surprise bestseller, and his next, The Beautiful and the Damned, was a hit as well: each sold about 50,000 copies. Fitzgerald privately considered The Great Gatsby “about the best American novel ever written,” and hoped to sell 75,000 copies.

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May 05, 2015

You Break It...


Tourists shatter a statue during a selfie attempt. 


An American artifact is broken in two by would-be preservationists. 

April 30, 2015

Princess Power


Is Britain’s royal family anxious for a princess?


Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn rewrite a birth announcement.