Melanie McDonagh

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

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…

antisuffrage-poster

Did most women want the vote?

10 May 2014 9:00 am

One way or another, we’re going to be seeing quite a lot of Helena Bonham Carter and Carey Mulligan in…

Paris

15 March 2014 9:00 am

No city really multitasks like Paris, shorthand for romance, culture, fashion, gastronomy and the kind of street life you find…

Secrets of Candleford: the real Flora Thompson

1 March 2014 9:00 am

When Richard Mabey was researching this biography of Flora Thompson, author of Lark Rise to Candleford, he happened to stay…

Forgive me, Father

8 February 2014 9:00 am

For non-Catholics, the most luridly fascinating aspect of Catholicism is confession. Telling your inmost sins — and we know what…

François Hollande - all the president's women

18 January 2014 9:00 am

Obviously, the whole Hollande business is utterly compelling from a prurient point of view, though journalists did brilliantly in coming…

How we lost the seasons

4 January 2014 9:00 am

So, what are you doing with your Christmas decorations? Still up? Did the tree get put out on 2 January?…

The best children's books for Christmas

30 November 2013 9:00 am

Animal stories for children are always tricky; as J.R.R. Tolkien observed in his essay on fairy stories, you can end…

The man who made it OK to talk about immigration

16 November 2013 9:00 am

It takes a lot to make the subject of immigration respectable for liberals, at least if you’re pointing out its…

Helen Fielding has lost her touch

19 October 2013 9:00 am

To understand quite how disgruntled the reviews of the latest Bridget Jones diaries have been, you have to recall quite…

Less sex please, we're British

12 October 2013 9:00 am

Jeer if you will, but I was shocked by the latest Bridget Jones book, Mad About the Boy. I was…

Do women want what they say they want?

28 September 2013 9:00 am

What do women want? You might have thought the Wife of Bath had got this one sorted, but Daniel Bergner…

Why G.K. Chesterton shouldn’t be made a saint

24 August 2013 9:00 am

The bad news for fans of G.K. Chesterton is that there are moves afoot to make him a saint. The…

Sorry – the Vikings really were that bad

10 August 2013 9:00 am

Sometimes the really obvious take on history turns out to be the right one. For generations, we all assumed that…

The Modern Peasant, by JoJo Tulloch - review

10 August 2013 9:00 am

You know that something’s afoot when Lakeland says so. Lakeland is the kitchenware company which has more of a finger…