Ian Sansom

Three generations and two royal families sit for a family portrait at Cowes in 1909. The portly Edward VII (centre) is flanked by the Tsar and Tsarina

2018: a year of dangerous liaisons with Russia

11 August 2018 9:00 am

First it was McMafia. After which it was the Skripals. Then the World Cup. Come the end of the year…

Theseus kills the Minotaur at the centre of the labyrinth. On the left, Ariadne gives him a ball of thread so that he can find his way out.

Amazing mazes: the pleasures of getting lost in the labyrinth

28 July 2018 9:00 am

When Boris Johnson resigned recently he automatically gave up his right to use Chevening House in Kent, bequeathed by the…

Modern-day Heath Robinson and YouTube star Simone Giertz. Photo: Simone Giertz / YouTube

Meet ‘the queen of shitty robots’

23 June 2018 9:00 am

Older readers will perhaps recall the once popular Sunday evening TV programme Scrapheap Challenge, in which oily, boilersuited blokes competed…

I want Lorrie Moore to be my BFF

12 May 2018 9:00 am

Is there anything more depressing than the prospect of reading a writer’s collected essays, journalism and occasional pieces? Most of…

Who needs Jordan Petersen when we have Ferdinand Mount?

5 May 2018 9:00 am

You will by now doubtless be familiar with the University of Toronto academic Jordan Peterson. He’s the unlikely YouTube star…

Is PewDiePie the new Harold Bloom?

5 May 2018 9:00 am

The most subscribed to channel on YouTube — by far — belongs to a rather strange young Swede named Felix…

Hobbit houses and 3-D homes – everything about these videos should be intensely irritating

7 April 2018 9:00 am

Since 2006, someone called Kirsten Dirksen has been posting weekly videos on YouTube about ‘simple living, self-sufficiency, small (and tiny)…

The joy of YouTube is that the content created is content-free

24 February 2018 9:00 am

None of us is above YouTube, and nothing is beneath it. We have of course all long since submitted to…

‘Speak! Speak!’ by John Everett Millais (1895)

The spirits of the age

28 October 2017 9:00 am

Children started knocking on my door last month wearing Donald Trump face masks and asking for money. Indeed, one enterprising…

A choice of first novels

5 August 2017 9:00 am

Remember Douglas Coupland? Remember Tama Janowitz? Remember Lisa St Aubin de Terán? Banana Yoshimoto? Françoise Sagan? The voice of your…

Andrey Kurkov’s The Bickford Fuse is a satirical masterpiece

14 May 2016 9:00 am

Whimsy, satire and deadpan humour: welcome to the world of Andrey Kurkov. If you know Kurkov’s work, The Bickford Fuse…

Clockwise from top left: Rudyard Kipling, Hannah More, M.R. James, Elizabeth Bowen, Arthur Conan Doyle and Candia McWilliam

The best British short stories — from Daniel Defoe to Zadie Smith

7 November 2015 9:00 am

Philip Hensher, the thinking man’s Stephen Fry — novelist, critic, boisterously clever — begins his introduction to his two-volume anthology…