The Unicorn

A History of Longing

Cropping up everywhere from Renaissance Cabinets of Curiosities to children’s nurseries, emerging as both a Christian motif and an emblem of the queer movement, the unicorn has long fascinated.

While today it is an imaginary animal better suited to T-Shirts than menageries, in antiquity and the Middle Ages, people firmly believed in the unicorn’s existence. It was only in the 17th century that natural scientists consigned it to the realm of myth.

Bernd Roling and Julia Weitbrecht unpack the turbulent history of the unicorn. They take us through its representation in natural history and medicine, literature and art, as well as the present-day media landscape.

Entertainingly, they show how the unicorn is an integral part of our imaginations – one whose use extends far beyond the fluffy image it has resigned to in today’s pop culture.