Patrick Skene Catling

Visiting the world’s masterpieces is a quixotic undertaking

5 October 2019 9:00 am

From his base in London, Martin Gayford has spent much of his career as an art critic travelling. He has…

The Apollo 11 astronauts: Neil Armstrong, Mike Collins and Buzz Aldrin. Credit: Getty Images

Getting to grips with rocket science

29 June 2019 9:00 am

Now that we are stupidly rendering Earth almost entirely uninhabitable by many species including our own (through overcrowding, failing political…

Grand Duke Francesco I de Medici may have been poisoned with arsenic by his brother Ferdinando. Portrait by Agnolo Bronzino

The age of chivalry was an age of devilry

5 January 2019 9:00 am

Agatha Christie’s spirit must be loving this poisonous new historical entertainment. Eleanor Herman has already enjoyed the success of Sex…

The majority of sexual encounters in giraffes involve two males necking

Humans are animals, and our extinction is inevitable – but we’re still pretty amazing

22 September 2018 9:00 am

Ever since enlivenment of the primordial blob, before thoughts were first verbalised, all nature has always been motivated by a…

Why has V.S. Naipaul rejected the Trinidad of his birth?

4 August 2018 9:00 am

Savi Naipaul Akal’s publishing house is named after the peepal tree, in whose shade Buddha is said to have achieved…

The torrential rain in Anbara Salam’s New Hebrides proves hellish. Credit: Getty Images

A review of debut novels — from Lisa Halliday, Margaret Wilkersen Sexton, Matthew Klam and Anbara Salam

2 June 2018 9:00 am

Publication of a debut novel is an experience comparable with the birth of a first child. Literary gestation is normally…

John Hoyland, 7.11.66, 1966

The London painters that conquered the world

5 May 2018 9:00 am

This is an important, authoritative work of art criticism that recognises schools of painters, yet displays the superior distinctions of…

A nightmare scenario in the city of dreaming spires

17 March 2018 9:00 am

‘Dreaming spires’? Yes, but sometimes there are nightmares. Brian Martin, awarded the MBE for services to English literature, is at…

Corruption, corruption, corruption: the full story of Miami vice

27 January 2018 9:00 am

Sullying the glorious sunshine, sand and sea, Miami in the 1940s, when I first ventured there, was already overcrowded, vulgar…

Harsh, but entertaining

23 September 2017 9:00 am

When millionaires become billionaires they become even greedier and more ruthless. At the highest level, Trumpian economics can be lethal.…

A poster from the 1930s advertising Shanghai

'Wicked old Paris of the Orient': a portrait of 1930s Shanghai

4 June 2016 9:00 am

Here’s the Mandarin for ooh-la-la! As Taras Grescoe, a respected Canadian writer of nonfiction, shows in this marvellous, microscopically descriptive…

Going ape with boredom in captivity

28 May 2016 9:00 am

King Kong, the story of a violently amorous gorilla, Me Cheeta, the autobiography of a slanderous Hollywood chimpanzee, and now…

David Pryce-Jones settles old scores

2 January 2016 9:00 am

The geological title of this unhappy memoir is an apt metaphor for fissures in the relationships between individuals of David…

An elegy for Concorde, the most beautiful airliner of all time

14 November 2015 9:00 am

The Concorde experience, a fleeting indulgence in luxurious grandiosity, began each day with circumvention of the hugger-mugger of the hoi…

Woody Allen and Diane Keaton in Manhattan

Woody Allen: a life of jazz, laughter, depression —and a few misdemeanours

26 September 2015 8:00 am

Woody Allen (born Allan Stewart Konigsberg), the prolific, Oscar-winning auteur, New Orleans-style jazz clarinettist, doyen of New York delicatessen society,…

Dennis Potter, 1978 (Photo: Getty)

Dennis Potter: one of the last great masters of vituperation

11 July 2015 9:00 am

‘Genuine invective is an almost lost art in our wild satirical age,’ Dennis Potter complained in New Society in 1966.…

There may be an unknown somebody even more wonderful

The smartphone is like having a singles bar in one’s pocket 24/7

20 June 2015 9:00 am

An American stand-up comedian Aziz Ansari, who usually performs in Los Angeles and New York, has found time to conduct…

Back to Bedlam: Patrick Skene Catling on the book that makes madness visible

4 April 2015 9:00 am

Madness is an ancient, evidently inscrutable mystery, often regarded with superstitious fear, yet can provide a refuge from reality. Sometimes,…

Sidney Bechet in 1939

Blue Note's 75 years of hot jazz

8 November 2014 9:00 am

This is a big book, a monumental text with 800 illustrations, 400 of them in colour, to be contemplated more…

A Troubles novel with plenty of violence and, thank heaven, some sex too

13 September 2014 9:00 am

‘The Anglo-Irish, their tribe, are dying. . . . They will go without a struggle, unlamented,’ Christopher Bland, 76, declares…

The robber baron who 'bought judges as other men buy food’

2 August 2014 9:00 am

The robber barons of the gilded age, at the turn of the 20th century, were the most ruthless accumulators of…

The two people who brought us The Grapes of Wrath

25 January 2014 9:00 am

John Steinbeck (1902–1968), an ardent propagandist for the exploited underdogs of the Great Depression, had barely enough money for subsistence…

How to get old without getting boring

19 October 2013 9:00 am

When one notices the first symptoms of senile dementia (forgetting names, trying to remember the purpose of moving from one…