Melanie McDonagh

Melanie McDonagh is a leaderwriter for the Evening Standard and Spectator contributor. Irish, living in London.

Bear necessities: line block print, 1970, hand coloured by E.H. Shepard

The star of the Winnie-the-Pooh show at V&A is E.H. Shepard

9 December 2017 9:00 am

The thing about Winnie-the-Pooh, 91 years old this year, is that he’s the creature of E.H. Shepard, who drew him,…

Is a Princess Meghan really such good news?

2 December 2017 9:00 am

‘The thing is,’ said my friend, after the broadcast of the engagement interview with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, ‘you…

Jauntily naive: illustration from Here We Are by Oliver Jeffers (HarperCollins)

A survey of this year’s children’s books sets the cat among the pigeons

2 December 2017 9:00 am

Back in 1990, Roald Dahl wrote a book called The Minpins, which was illustrated by Patrick Benson, a very good…

Cover illustration for the magazine Garm 1944, by Tove Jansson

A chance to see the Moomins’ creator for the genius she really was: Tove Janssons reviewed

18 November 2017 9:00 am

Tove Jansson, according to her niece’s husband, was a squirt in size and could rarely be persuaded to eat, preferring…

Stitches in time: detail of ‘Embroidery Design’ by May Morris, worked by May Morris and Theodosia Middlemore, c.1900

Is May Morris a feminist cause – a woman of genius unfairly overlooked?

11 November 2017 9:00 am

You may think you don’t know May Morris, daughter of William, but you’ll probably have come across her wallpaper. Her…

Abortion Demo (image: Getty)

Pregnant silence

21 October 2017 9:00 am

Brian Sewell once wrote an article about abortion headlined: ‘Women, the killers in our midst.’ He got an awful lot…

Philip Pullman (image: Getty)

Three daemons in a boat

21 October 2017 9:00 am

Philip Pullman’s new k, the prequel to his Northern Lights series — the one north Oxford academics very much prefer…

Hope, the blue whale, replaces Dippy, the diplodocus, in the Natural History Museum’s Hintze Hall

Cathedral of creation

12 August 2017 9:00 am

Sometimes, it pays to rediscover what’s already under your nose. I’ve been umpteen times to the Natural History Museum but…

Francesca Simon’s dark novel The Monstrous Child tells the story of Hel, Queen of the Underworld — like Proserpina, only monstrous

Sinister summer reading for children

21 May 2016 9:00 am

Martin Stewart’s Riverkeep (Penguin, £7.99) has a list of books and writers on the cover: Moby-Dick, The Wizard of Oz,…

Illustration by Jane Ray for Kevin Crossley-Holland’s Heartsong

The best children’s authors of 2015 — after David Walliams

28 November 2015 9:00 am

The easy way round buying books for children at Christmas is just to get them the latest David Walliams and…

We’re not more genderfluid now. We’re just duller about it

7 November 2015 9:00 am

Sex has always been less binary than it looks – but we’ve never been this boring about it

Green djinns and a green boy: the best summer reading for children

1 August 2015 9:00 am

It’s the 150th anniversary of Alice in Wonderland — cue an explosion of editions of the book, a new biography…

How come our cash-strapped universities can afford so many administrators?

6 June 2015 9:00 am

It took Oxford 40 years to catch up with Cambridge in appointing a woman vice-chancellor, but Louise Richardson — ex-St…

Virtual reality versus real reality: wisdom (and motorcycle maintenance) from Matthew Crawford

9 May 2015 9:00 am

Bit of Kant, bit of Kierkegaard, bit of motorcycle maintenance. That’s one take on The World Beyond Your Head, Matthew…

The importance of illustration: Babar et le Professeur Grifaton by Laurent de Brunhoff

Under Harry Potter’s spell: most children’s books have become shamelessly derivative, says Melanie McDonagh

11 April 2015 9:00 am

Go to any bookshop — always supposing you’re fortunate enough to have any left in your neck of the woods…

The Babies Castle, a branch of Dr Barnardo’s at Hawkhurst, Kent in 1934

Love child or bastard: the lottery of being born on the wrong side of the blanket

21 March 2015 9:00 am

My father was handed over a shop counter when he was a day old. His aunt had tried to pass…

Grimms’ fairy tales: the hardcore version

13 December 2014 9:00 am

Child murder, domestic slavery, abusive families, cannibalism and intergenerational hatred — what could be better for the festive fireside than…

The Parent Trap, familiar from various film versions, is a story by Eric Kastner, now republished with Walter Trier’s illustrations by Pushkin Books

The best children’s books of 2014

29 November 2014 9:00 am

If it’s all right with you, I’d like to launch a campaign please. Right here. You may be wanting me…

The cult of 'mindfulness'

1 November 2014 9:00 am

The chances are that by now either you or someone you know well has begun to practise ‘mindfulness’ — a…

What Shami regards as right isn’t necessarily what is right

1 November 2014 9:00 am

Shami Chakrabarti, director of the civil rights group Liberty and omnipresent media personality, is on the cover of her book.…

The theatrical Constance Markewicz founded the military boy scouts, who would later staff the IRA

When Irish nationalism meant sexual adventure

18 October 2014 9:00 am

One of the easiest mistakes to make about history is to assume that the past is like the recent past,…

Ottolenghi’s tomato and pomegranate salad

Yotam Ottolenghi: the Saatchi brothers of vegetable PR

27 September 2014 8:00 am

It would be a mistake to treat Plenty More, the new cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi, merely as a collection of…

Churchgoing is good for you (even if you don’t believe in God)

21 June 2014 8:00 am

Few people, don’t you find, are as irritating as those who define themselves as Spiritual But Not Religious? There was…

‘Religieuses’ (from William and Suzue Curley’s Patisserie)

Recipe for a modern baker: first, move to Hoxton

21 June 2014 8:00 am

If I were the kind of person who invited people to come and have a bite to eat that very…

The best new children's books

7 June 2014 9:00 am

A children’s author and illustrator, Jonathan Emmet, created a stir recently by saying that women are effectively gatekeepers of children’s…