Ysenda Maxtone Graham

How can I prevent my husband from burning all my post?

18 November 2017 9:00 am

If you don’t yet watch Gogglebox on Channel 4, start doing so now. Far from making you despise our couch-potato…

The head of Jeremy Bentham, who died in 1832

What can we learn from Jeremy Bentham’s pickled head?

18 November 2017 9:00 am

Under the central dome of UCL — an indoor crossroads where hordes of students come and go on their way…

‘My witchcraft is going well’: The crazed Eva Rausing, photographed shortly before her death

Descent into hell

9 September 2017 9:00 am

It’s awful, but the surname Rausing (once synonymous only with the Tetrapak fortune) now summons up a terrible stench in…

Warning: there’s a plague of fake blue plaques

4 June 2016 9:00 am

Blue plaque spotting is one of the mind-broadening pleasures of British life. A walk to the dentist can be transformed…

No place for sissies among the Bridge Ladies of Connecticut

28 May 2016 9:00 am

Not a single line of this highly distinctive memoir happens out of doors. All of it takes place in rooms:…

The price of a cathedral – and how deans pay it

26 March 2016 9:00 am

We’ve all done it: been overcome by a sudden sense of hard-upness at the moment when the collection plate comes…

A mother-son relationship that made me feel sick

12 March 2016 9:00 am

A boy, a car, a journey, a question: the first sentence of Elizabeth Day’s new novel goes like this: From…

The most annoying word in advertising

5 March 2016 9:00 am

It used to be ‘Your M&S’. That was presumptuous enough. Now, when you drive past Earls Court exhibition hall, pathetically…

Private-school ‘superheads’ are a publicity-seeking waste of time

20 February 2016 9:00 am

The term ‘superhead’ was first used during the Blair government in 1998: an eye-catching word for a new breed of…

John Irving spoilt my Christmas

23 January 2016 9:00 am

This novel, John Irving’s 14th, took the sheen off my Christmas, and here are the reasons.   The comments on…

The best short story collections — from childish gabbling to jaded nihilism

28 November 2015 9:00 am

Anyone who enjoyed Ali Smith’s novel How to be Both, with its charmingly loopy monologue of an Italian Renaissance painter…

The perfect big bang that opens this book was too good to be true

19 September 2015 8:00 am

Houses, as any plumber will testify, do sometimes blow up in gas explosions, destroying their contents and inhabitants, but would…

Breast-feeding isn't always best

29 August 2015 9:00 am

How should a new mother feed her baby? You might well imagine that was up to her. While some mothers…

Bubble-wrap, berry-picking and the secret pleasures of destruction

25 July 2015 9:00 am

It’s not quite as bad as we feared: Sealed Air, the company in New Jersey that makes bubble-wrap, is not…

Which comes first — the chicken or the pig?

13 June 2015 9:00 am

Here are two parallel books, both by Americans, both 260 pages (excluding indexes) long, both using ‘likely’ as an adverb.…

What does your front garden say about you?

23 May 2015 9:00 am

It is said that the road to hell is ‘paved with good intentions’. Well, so is the typical front garden…

Brian Sewell does some donkey work: how Britain’s best-known art critic put his ass on the line

4 April 2015 9:00 am

I suppose all children’s authors write the stories they would have liked to read as children. But in the case of…

In praise of messy old kitchens

28 March 2015 9:00 am

‘I love my new kitchen heart of the home let’s fill it with friends happy.’ So says the thought bubble…

It takes a village (or six): the battle for rural churches

21 February 2015 9:00 am

Some of the longest job descriptions belong to rural Church of England clergy. ‘So what do you do?’ ‘I’m the…

How to stop being scared of full stops

24 January 2015 9:00 am

Typical mother-to-mother email, January weekday, 2015: ‘Thanks so much for helping out yesterday, Jamie had a great time with you…

Bish bash Bosphorus: Elif Shafak’s saga of love and death in Istanbul is crammed with incident on every page

10 January 2015 9:00 am

If you like to curl up by the fire with a proper, old-fashioned, saga-style tale about a boy and his…

A beautiful speaking voice is a window to the soul

6 December 2014 9:00 am

Recent text from a female friend. ‘I’m in love with Neil MacGregor.’ To which I reply, ‘But of course! Up…

The ossuary at Sedlec in Czechoslovakia, where garlands of skulls drape the vault. The chapel is thought to contain the skeletons of up to 70,000 people

In search of dead men's bones

15 November 2014 9:00 am

Skulls, femurs, ribs, pelvises, piled on top of each other in a chaotic heap: this, Denise Inge discovered, was what…

It’s not easy for a middle-aged woman to get inside the head of a 12-year-old innkeeper’s son in 1914

13 September 2014 9:00 am

Esther Freud wrote dazzlingly in the first person through the eyes of a five-year-old child in her first novel, Hideous…

The vote on women bishops is a triumph for our diplomatic Archbishop

19 July 2014 9:00 am

The result of Monday’s vote on women bishops, the Archbishop of York stipulated, must be greeted in silence, as is…