Sam Leith

Conservatives are wrong about free speech

7 July 2018 9:00 am

‘There. I said it.’ That phrase, and the attitude it strikes, says something pretty specific. It doesn’t just say: here’s…

It’s the Year of the Slug and I’m at war with the slimy little bastards

9 June 2018 9:00 am

I know some people are fretting about Brexit, and others about the drive-by violence the President is doing to the…

A 19th-century engraving by Alfred Edmund Brehm of Indian snake-charmers

Was the Indian Rope Trick a myth?

9 June 2018 9:00 am

The Paul Daniels Magic Show, on a Saturday afternoon in the early 1980s, was a straightforward enough proposition. A wand,…

The Psychedelic Guide to Preparation of the Eucharist was a book produced in 1968 by the Neo-American Church, explaining how to manufacture and cultivate marijuana, peyote, mushrooms, morning glory, LSD and STP ‘for religious purposes’. Taken from Altered States: The Library of Julio Santo Domingo by Peter Watts (Anthology Editions, available at www.anthology.net)

Might LSD be good for you?

12 May 2018 9:00 am

When Peregrine Worsthorne was on Desert Island Discs in 1992, he chose as his luxury item a lifetime supply of…

Games without frontiers: Ian Cheng’s ‘Emissaries Guide – Narrative Agents and Wildlife’ (2017)

The artist who creates digital life forms that bite & self-harm. Sam Leith meets him (and them)

24 March 2018 9:00 am

Digital art is a crowded field. It’s also now older than I am. Yet despite a 50-year courtship, art galleries…

The extraordinary life and times of Lithuania’s greatest poet

17 March 2018 9:00 am

The first book that Tomas Venclova read in English was Nineteen Eighty-Four. Not a bad start in the language, given…

Only an idiot would choose to live at any other time than the present

10 March 2018 9:00 am

Steven Pinker’s new book is a characteristically fluent, decisive and data-rich demonstration of why, given the chance to live at…

‘Adam and Eve in Paradise’, by Lucas Cranach the Elder (1531)

The journey of Adam and Eve

16 September 2017 9:00 am

Trying to reconcile a belief in the literal truth of the Bible with the facts of the world as we…

The dice men

26 August 2017 9:00 am

‘I have a slight bone to pick with you,’ I tell Ian Livingstone as he makes me a cup of…

How I write

12 August 2017 9:00 am

How do they do it? Among writers, the earnest audience member at a literary festival who asks, ‘Do you write…

Diary

1 July 2017 9:00 am

Also in Sam Leith’s Diary: the best 18th-century novel since the 18th century and gossiping with David Miller

A dispatch from a family of fooshers

2 April 2016 9:00 am

I’d like this to have been one of those Spectator diaries that gives the ordinary reader a glimpse into the…

Why would the whole world’s book industry gather in booze-free Sharjah?

2 January 2016 9:00 am

It’s not so much the volume of deals done in the agents’ enclosure, the number of exhibitors or the size…

(Photo: Getty)

Worry less about what to call Isis, and more about how to fight them

28 November 2015 9:00 am

‘They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He shends one of yoursh to the hospital, you shend one of…

The city became cacophonous with bells: a detail of Claes Visscher’s famous early 17th-century panorama shows old London Bridge and some of the 114 church steeples that constantly tolled the death knells of plague victims

Shakespeare's London: where all the world really was a stage

26 September 2015 8:00 am

We don’t usually pay all that much attention, as James Shapiro points out, to the Jacobean Shakespeare. We’re in the…

The Merchant (left) and the Physician from the Ellesmere manuscript of the Canterbury Tales

A window on Chaucer’s cramped, scary, smelly world

17 January 2015 9:00 am

Proust had his cork-lined bedroom; Emily Dickinson her Amherst hidey-hole; Mark Twain a gazebo with magnificent views of New York…

Two small children dying together in the gutter in the Chinese famine of 1946

How Hitler's dreams came true in 1946

11 October 2014 9:00 am

I should begin this review, in the spirit of full disclosure, by admitting that I know the author very slightly.…

Tenements in the Gorbals area of Glasgow — considered some of the worst slums in Britain — are replaced by high-rise flats, c. 1960

Corrie and ready-salted crisps: the years when modern Britain began

13 September 2014 9:00 am

In Burberry’s on Regent Street on a dank December day in 1959, David Kynaston records, ‘a young Canadian writer, Leonard…

Charles Scott Moncrieff (left) had a deep personal affinity with Proust (right). His rendering of 'À La Recherche du Temps Perdu' is considered one of the greatest literary translations of all time

Soldier, poet, lover, spy: just the man to translate Proust

16 August 2014 9:00 am

Charles Kenneth Scott Moncrieff’s Englishing of Proust — widely and immediately agreed to be one of the greatest literary translations…

‘There is nothin’ like a dame’ — nice songs, shame about the lighting: Mitzi Gaynor in ‘South Pacific’, 1958

Why movie musicals matter – to this author anyway

19 July 2014 9:00 am

Do movie musicals matter? Most readers, even those who love them, will embark on Richard Barrios’s short history of the…

Aimé Tschiffely with Mancha and Gato. The strongest emotional bonds he formed on his epic journey were with his horses

A horse ride from Buenos Aires to New York? No problem!

14 June 2014 8:00 am

Aimé Tschiffely was what I have seen in other contexts called a ‘doublehard bastard’. In the middle of the 1920s,…

Odysseus and the Sirens

If you ever wanted a Homeric jump-start, this is your book

17 May 2014 9:00 am

As a teenager, like many of his class and generation, Adam Nicolson encountered Homer in Greek lessons. The subject matter…

Shooting prize-dispensing fish in literary barrels

3 May 2014 9:00 am

Edward St Aubyn’s new novel is a jauntily malicious satire on literary prizes in general, the Man Booker Prize in…

Churchill reading in his library at Chartwell

Churchill was as mad as a badger. We should all be thankful

19 April 2014 9:00 am

Land sakes! Another book about Winston Churchill? Really? Give us a break, the average reader may think. Actually though, as…

Management consultancy! Sculpture park! Sports stadium! The many faces of the Delphic Oracle

22 March 2014 9:00 am

‘In ancient times … hundreds of years before the dawn of history, lived a strange race of people … the…