Richard Davenport-Hines

‘The Duel after the Masquerade’ by Jean-Léon Gerome was exhibited to great acclaim in Paris in 1857, and a year later in London. The art historian Francis Haskell has suggested that the mysterious duelling figures from the commmedia dell’arte are characters in a story by Jules Champfleury

Crossed swords and pistols at dawn: the duel in literature

20 June 2015 9:00 am

Earlier this century I was a guest at a fine dinner, held in a citadel of aristocratic Catholicism, for youngish…

Oscar Wilde and the marvellous boy

9 May 2015 9:00 am

The prodigious brilliance, blaring public ruin, dismal martyrdom and posthumous glory of Oscar Wilde’s reputation are almost too familiar. The…

Benjamin Robert Haydon’s portrait of William Wordsworth

Sunday roasts and beaded bubbles: dining with the poets

3 January 2015 9:00 am

In December 1817 Benjamin Robert Haydon — vivid diarist and painter of huge but inferior canvases of historic events —…

Students at the Wartburg festival in October 1817, celebrating the tercentenary of the Reformation and the fourth anniversary of the Battle of Leipzig, cause panic in the courts of Europe

How a clumsy drummer started the 1848 revolutions

18 October 2014 9:00 am

There are hundreds of resounding ideas and shrewd precepts in Adam Zamoyski’s temperate yet splendidly provocative Phantom Terror. This is…

The opéra bouffe that was the Bretton Woods conference

14 June 2014 8:00 am

There ought to be a comic opera about the Bretton Woods conference — Thomas Adès’s Powder Her Face, about Margaret,…

An almost masochistic docility: E.M. Forster in his youth

What E.M. Forster didn't do

8 March 2014 9:00 am

‘On the whole I think you should write biographies of those you admire and respect, and novels about human beings…

Critics can be creative - look at Malcolm Cowley

11 January 2014 9:00 am

Even Spectator book reviewers have to concede that their craft is inferior to the creative travail of authors. Henry James…

What would Auden have deemed evil in our time? European jingoism

9 November 2013 9:00 am

‘Goodbye to the Mezzogiorno’ was the first Auden poem that Alexander McCall Smith read in his youth. He discovered it…

The Rothschilds, the Spenders, the Queen...

19 October 2013 9:00 am

The novelist David Plante is French-Québécois by ancestry, grew up in a remote Francophone parish in Yankee New England and…

Colette’s France, by Jane Gilmour - review

28 September 2013 9:00 am

Monstrous innocence’ was the ruling quality that Colette claimed in both her life and books. Protesting her artless authenticity, she…

MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood - review

31 August 2013 9:00 am

The two opening volumes of Margaret Atwood’s trilogy have sold over a million copies. One of them managed to be…

The Selected Letters of Willa Cather, edited by Andrew Jewell - review

17 August 2013 9:00 am

Willa Cather is an American novelist without name-recognition in Europe, yet she had a wider range of subject and deeper…