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Bestiary of the Book

Being a Compendium of Creatures Used to Make Books

Medieval books of beasts or “bestiaries” are filled with images, information, and insight—usually some moral or spiritual meaning that the beast is meant to symbolize. Bestiary books have changed over the years and been reimagined in many ways, from Harry Potter’s Monster Book of Monsters to a forthcoming novel by K-Ming Chang, and we offer another reimagined bestiary here. (If you still want to know more about bestiaries, check out this brilliant introduction by our friends over at the Getty Museum.)


In this blog series, student-writers explore not only when a “beast” was first discussed in an English-language printed book, but also how it was used to make books from 1450 onwards. Enjoy the stories linked below. Like medieval bestiaries, they’re filled with images, information, and insight—in this case, some surprising ways that an animal you think you know has been used to record history. 

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