Philip Hensher

Spare reviewed: Harry is completely disingenuous – or an idiot

14 January 2023 9:00 am

What makes the Duke of Sussex believe he can lead a charge against practitioners of the written word, wonders Philip Hensher

A sunken wreck of a novel: Cormac McCarthy’s The Passenger reviewed

19 November 2022 9:00 am

A great talent is wasted in Cormac McCarthy’s meandering tale of a mysterious plane crash and its aftermath, says Philip Hensher

The unpleasant truth about Joseph Roth

1 October 2022 9:00 am

The Radetzky March must be one of the dozen greatest European novels – but its author was frighteningly unpleasant, says Philip Hensher

‘Jerusalem’ is a rousing anthem – but who knows what the words mean?

9 July 2022 9:00 am

‘Jerusalem’ may be our unofficial national anthem, but don’t ask anyone who sings it to tell you what it means, says Philip Hensher

The intense Englishness of Philip Larkin

3 July 2022 6:00 pm

The English language has a curious feature, called the phrasal verb. It consists of a plain verb plus a preposition;…

Is T.S. Eliot’s great aura fading?

4 June 2022 9:00 am

Cracks are beginning to appear in T.S. Eliot’s once unassailable reputation, says Philip Hensher

You can make anything up about the royal family and it will be printed as a matter of fact

30 April 2022 9:00 am

Royal gossip is largely invented, says Philip Hensher – but Tina Brown repeats it regardless

Graham Robb deserves to be a French national treasure

12 March 2022 9:00 am

Philip Hensher is enthralled by Graham Robb’s evocative new history of France

Watcher of the skies: John Constable, painter and meteorologist

12 February 2022 9:00 am

Philip Hensher describes how John Constable’s energy and imagination freed British art from the constraints of the past

The first fairy stories were never intended for children

15 January 2022 9:00 am

Philip Hensher explores the origins of fairy tales

The life of René Magritte was even more surprising than his art

27 November 2021 9:00 am

René Magritte’s life, so outwardly respectable, was as full of surprises as his art, says Philip Hensher

Far from being our dullest king, George V was full of surprises

13 November 2021 9:00 am

‘Victorian’ stuck, and ‘Edwardian’ too. But ‘Georgian’, as an adjective associated with the next monarch in line, never caught on.…

Another haphazard Booker shortlist lacks literary competence

16 October 2021 9:00 am

Philip Hensher finds this year’s Booker shortlist more concerned with serious world issues than vivid characterisation

A dutiful exercise carried out in a rush

4 September 2021 9:00 am

The final volume of Peter Ackroyd’s History of England feels like a dutiful exercise carried out in a hurry, says Philip Hensher

An interest in the bizarre helps keep melancholy at bay

7 August 2021 9:00 am

Philip Hensher finds Robert Burton’s perception of the world and the human condition endlessly fascinating

Oh! Calcutta! Amartya Sen’s childhood memories brim with nostalgia

10 July 2021 9:00 am

From Bengali schoolboy to citizen of the world – Amartya Sen’s autobiography is a joy, says Philip Hensher

How William Hogarth made Britain

26 June 2021 9:00 am

A new biography of William Hogarth pays dutiful homage to his satirical genius but does not challenge its predecessors, writes Philip Hensher

Over the rainbow: D.H. Lawrence’s search for a new way of life

22 May 2021 9:00 am

Philip Hensher describes D.H. Lawrence’s restless search of a new way of life

An unsuitable attachment to Nazism: Barbara Pym in the 1930s

17 April 2021 9:00 am

Vicars, tea parties and village fetes were a far cry from Barbara Pym’s early enthusiasms, Philip Hensher reveals

Jordan Peterson is the Savonarola of our times

20 March 2021 9:00 am

Philip Hensher feels he should be on Jordan Peterson’s side, but finds it a struggle

Imagining a future for John Keats — the novelist

6 February 2021 9:00 am

Keats is a much stranger poet than we tend to realise – who shocked his first readers by his vulgarity and gross indecency, says Philip Hensher

Dolly Parton represents all that’s best about America

16 January 2021 9:00 am

Dolly Parton is the living embodiment of America’s best values, says Philip Hensher

Labyrinthine tales: We All Hear Stories in the Dark, by Robert Shearman, reviewed

19 December 2020 9:00 am

When the estimable Andy Miller, the host of the Backlisted podcast, recommended a new collection of short stories on Twitter,…

Harold Bloom finally betrays how little he really understood literature

21 November 2020 9:00 am

Harold Bloom devoted his life to literature – but he had little feeling for words, says Philip Hensher

De Profundis: the agony of filming Oscar Wilde’s last years

10 October 2020 9:00 am

Philip Hensher admires a witty account of the horrors of modern film-making