Spider, By Katarzyna and Sergiusz Michalski

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The Independent Culture

In phobia terms, Reaktion's terrific animal series has reached the king of beasts. Arachnophobia, the Miss Muffet syndrome, is "now counted among the most interesting human neuroses".

Not everyone has this antipathy to the 400 different types of spider. In his memoirs, the 12th Duke of Bedford wrote a chapter called Spiders I Have Known – one favourite enjoyed a daily meal of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding.

In this enjoyable (at least for some of us) monograph, the reader learns something new about this extraordinary creature. The authors explore how spiders inspired Rubens, Rowlandson, Louise Bourgeois, but sadly omit Harold Wilson's self-description as "a big fat spider sitting in the corner of the room."