Ben Franklin Was One-Fifth Revolutionary, Four-Fifths London Intellectual

The Enterprising Philadelphian Was a Longtime Royalist and a Late-Blooming Rebel Who Infused the American Project with English Ideals

Two hundred and fifty years ago, in February 1766, Benjamin Franklin, the most famous American in London, addressed the British House of Commons. His aim, which he achieved triumphantly, was to persuade Parliament to repeal the Stamp Act, the legislation that had usurped the power of the colonial assemblies and caused the first major breakdown in relations between Britain and its American colonies. Franklin was determined to heal the breach; unlike most British politicians, he understood the American continent’s vast potential as part of a closely knit Great British empire. …

Can Rain Hold Us Hostage?

I Barely Made It Through England's Wettest Year. Now El Niño Looms Over My California Dream.

We’ve bought sand bags at Home Depot, installed new gutters, and patched up the roof of our house in Los Angeles. We’ve asked a plumber to check our industrial-grade sump …

Henry VIII Wasn’t a Glutton—He Was Just an Injured King

Then Why Is the English Monarch Portrayed as a Fatso Who Tossed Chicken Bones?

Henry VIII is the most famous king in English history. Like all fame, Henry’s is a mix of fact and myth. He is most famous for having six wives, which …

Where Do Colors Come From?

Dead Bugs, Manure, Acid, and the Unlikely Origins of Brilliant Hues in Art

When I was 8 and on holiday in France with my parents, we went to Chartres Cathedral, just south of Paris. My father took me by the hand as we …

From a London Alley to the White House

Louisa Catherine Adams, the Only First Lady Born Outside the U.S., Had to Prove Herself to Her Husband’s Family, Congress—and the Country

It was hard for Louisa Catherine Adams, the only first lady born outside the United States, to say where she came from. She began her life in a narrow alley …

I Was a Teenage Expat

I Loved America, Until I Had to Live There

England: the land of teatime, Harry Potter, and an archaic politeness more suited to novels than everyday life, all topped off with charming accents. My American family moved from the …