Peter Parker

The establishment was always covering up for Bob Boothby

30 May 2020 9:00 am

Just after John Pearson finished writing The Profession of Violence, his celebrated biography of the Krays, both his and his…

Without Joseph Banks, Cook’s first voyage might have been a failure

9 May 2020 9:00 am

When the wealthy young Joseph Banks announced that he intended joining Captain Cook’s expedition to Tahiti to observe the Transit…

Flower power: symbols of romance and revolution

2 May 2020 9:00 am

Critics have argued over the meaning of the great golden flower head to which Van Dyck points in his ‘Self-Portrait…

Capturing the mood of the English landscape: the genius of John Nash

23 November 2019 9:00 am

‘If I wanted to make a foreigner understand the mood of a typical English landscape,’ the art critic Eric Newton…

Was there some Freudian symbolism in Lucian’s botanical paintings?

7 September 2019 9:00 am

In early paintings such as ‘Man with a Thistle’ (1946), ‘Still-life with Green Lemon’ (1946) and ‘Self-portrait with Hyacinth Pot’…

Feasts, flowers and plein-air painting at Benton End

6 July 2019 9:00 am

Cedric Morris is often referred to as an artist-plantsman, and while as a breeder of plants, most particularly of irises,…

An illustration from Emperors, Admirals and Chimney Sweepers by Peter Marren

Fluttering to extinction: the tragedy of Britain’s butterflies

29 June 2019 9:00 am

In 1979, despite the best efforts of scientists for more than a century, a butterfly called the British Large Blue…

Joshua Reynolds’s portrait of Tysoe Saul Hancock, his wife Philadelphia (née Austen) and daughter Eliza (rumoured to have been the child of Warren Hastings) with their Indian maid Clarinda, c. 1764–5. Eliza was Jane Austen’s cousin and later sister-in-law, and is said to have inspired several of Austen’s characters, including the playful Mary Crawford in Mansfield Park

The scourge of Christian missionaries in British-Indian history

1 September 2018 9:00 am

Objectivity seems to be difficult for historians writing about Britain’s long and complicated relationship with India, and this makes the…

How pleasant to know Mr Lear

14 October 2017 9:00 am

Edward Lear liked to tell the story of how he was once sitting in a railway carriage with two women…

Harry Farr, a soldier with the 1st Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment, was executed for cowardice, aged 25, in 1916 when he refused to fight, despite almost certainly suffering from shell shock

The shocks and shells of the Somme

30 April 2016 9:00 am

In the final months of 1914, medical officers on the Western Front began seeing a new kind of casualty. Soldiers…

British troops go over the top on 1 July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme

The British army’s greatest catastrophe — and its most valuable lesson

5 September 2015 9:00 am

Peter Parker spends 24 hours on the bloodsoaked battlefield of the Somme, scene of the British army’s greatest catastrophe

RAMC stretcher-bearers from the South Eastern Mounted Brigade enter the Field Ambulance dressing station at Y Ravine. Picture courtesy of Stephen Chambers

The other trenches: the Dardanelles, 100 years on

4 April 2015 9:00 am

Peter Parker discerns classical allusion amid the horror in two books commemorating the centenary of the Gallipoli campaign

Princess Bamba, Catherine and Sophia Duleep Singh at their debut at Buckingham Palace, 1894

Sophia Duleep Singh: from socialite to socialist

24 January 2015 9:00 am

Princess Sophia Alexandrovna Duleep Singh (1876–1948) had a heritage as confusing as her name. Her father was a deposed Indian…

David Hockney, photographed by Christopher Simon Sykes

David Hockney, our most popular and hardworking living artist, returns to the easel

20 September 2014 9:00 am

The first volume of Christopher Simon Sykes’s biography of David Hockney ended in the summer of 1975. The 38-year-old painter…

Joining the old rogue on his 80th birthday, from left to right, Bevis Hillier, Antonia Fraser, Hamilton, James Pope-Hennessy, James Reeve, and the Spectator’s current book editor, Mark Amory

The long and disgraceful life of Britain's pre-eminent bounder

19 July 2014 9:00 am

In his time, Gerald Hamilton (1890–1970) was an almost legendary figure, but he is now remembered — if at all…

Colonel James Tod, travelling by elephant through Rajasthan with his cavalry and sepoys (Indian school, 18th century)

From Scylax to the Beatles: the West's lust for India

7 June 2014 9:00 am

Peter Parker on the age-old allure of the Indian subcontinent

A truth too tender for memoir

31 May 2014 9:00 am

It has been 14 years since Akhil Sharma published his first, widely acclaimed novel, An Obedient Father. Though its subject…

‘Harmony and order were what Jane Austen sought in her life and work’. Chawton House, in Hampshire (above), was inherited by Jane’s brother, Edward.

Brains with green fingers

5 April 2014 9:00 am

‘Life is bristling with thorns,’ Voltaire observed in 1769, ‘and I know no other remedy than to cultivate one’s garden.’…

A dreadful warning: a fisherman paddles through a tide of toxic waste on the Yamuna river, against a backdrop of smog and high-rise construction

Lawlessness, corruption, poverty and pollution: the city where we're all headed

15 March 2014 9:00 am

India’s vast polluted capital, where brutality, corruption and ruthless self-seeking are endemic, could be the blueprint of the future, says Peter Parker

Pine by Laura Mason; Lily, by Marcia Reiss - review

21 September 2013 9:00 am

After the success of their animal series of monographs, Reaktion Books have had the clever idea of doing something similar…

L'Enfant Sauvage

Francois Truffaut, by Anne Gillian - review

31 August 2013 9:00 am

Almost 30 years after his death, François Truffaut remains a vital presence in the cinema. Terrence Malick and Wes Anderson…