Lead book review

Wordsworth may have been partially eclipsed by his fellow Romantics, but his life was far from dull

4 April 2020 9:00 am

Wordsworth’s reputation has been too long in decline, says Tom Williams. In the space of a decade he transformed English poetry, and his earlier works remain astonishing

From Liverpool’s Cavern to the world stage: how the Beatles became a global phenomenon

28 March 2020 9:00 am

Alan Johnson describes how four young men from Liverpool revived Britain, healed America and brought joy to millions

Gustav Mahler’s bid for greatness: the ‘Symphony of a Thousand’

21 March 2020 9:00 am

Gustav Mahler was a passionate enthusiast for the colossal in music. Even so, his mighty eighth symphony stands apart, says Philip Hensher

America’s love-hate relationship with Shakespeare

14 March 2020 9:00 am

Emma Smith examines the peculiarly disruptive effect of Shakespeare’s plays on American society over the centuries

Knowing Thomas Cromwell’s fate only increases the tension: The Mirror & the Light, by Hilary Mantel, reviewed

7 March 2020 9:00 am

In 1540, he, himself, Lord Cromwell fell victim to the king’s caprice. His execution brings to a close one of English literature’s great trilogies, says Mark Lawson

Rape has always been one of the deadliest weapons of war

29 February 2020 9:00 am

Nothing prepared Antony Beevor for this devastating exposé of the systematic use of rape in war and ethnic cleansing

Shades of the prison house: the ghosts of suicides fill our prisons

21 February 2020 10:00 pm

As an inmate, Chris Atkins discovered just how violent and chaotic prison life is. His diaries highlight a national scandal – and the dangerous incompetence of the Ministry of Justice, says Will Heaven

Unspeakably prolix and petty: will anyone want to read John Bercow’s autobiography?

15 February 2020 9:00 am

In his autobiography, John Bercow takes his peerage as a given. But that might be scuppered by accusations of bullying, says Lynn Barber

The real Calamity Jane was distressingly unlike her legend

7 February 2020 10:00 pm

Calamity Jane’s legend as brave frontierswoman, crack shot and compassionate nurse to the wounded was nurtured largely by herself. The truth, says Sam Leith, was dismayingly different

Was Dresden a war crime?

1 February 2020 9:00 am

Dresden defined the horror of war: revenge and cold-blooded murder. It still does, says Christopher Priest

How David Rosenhan’s fraudulent Thud experiment set back psychiatry for decades

24 January 2020 10:00 pm

In 1973, a social psychologist from Stanford perpetrated one of the greatest scientific frauds of recent history. Its consequences still resonate today, says Andrew Scull

Carrying on loving: Elizabeth Hardwick’s and Robert Lowell’s remarkable correspondence throughout the 1970s

18 January 2020 9:00 am

Since Robert Lowell’s sudden death in 1977 his critical reputation has suffered from the usual post-mortem slump. Interest in Lowell’s…

The Tudor dynasty owed everything to Margaret Beaufort’s machinations

11 January 2020 9:00 am

Of the clutch of female powerbrokers who emerged during the civil wars of the English 15th century, the diminutive figure…

Who are today’s fictional heroes?

21 December 2019 9:00 am

What’s a hero? There are probably at least two answers to that. One is that heroism is a moral quality:…

More juicy gossip from Kenneth ‘Climbing’ Rose

14 December 2019 9:00 am

When this second volume of diaries begins in 1979, Kenneth Rose is 54 and well established as the author of…

As English spread over the subcontinent, India lost forever its rich Persianate literary heritage

7 December 2019 9:00 am

In the seventh century, the Chinese Buddhist monk Xuanzang made an epic journey through the Gobi desert and over the…

When Cartier was the girls’ best friend

30 November 2019 9:00 am

The word ‘jewel’ makes the heart beat a little faster. Great jewels have always epitomised beauty, love — illicit or…

The carnage inside Charlie Hebdo: an eyewitness’s account of the attack

23 November 2019 9:00 am

It is almost five years since two trained jihadists went into the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris and killed…

Books of the year – part two

16 November 2019 9:00 am

Richard Ingrams A book that gave me great enjoyment (for all the wrong reasons) was Harvest Bells: New and Uncollected…

Books of the year – part one

9 November 2019 9:00 am

Philip Hensher The best novels of the year were Colson Whitehead’s The Nickel Boys (Fleet, £16.99) and James Meek’s To…

Three dashing Frenchmen captivate Victorian London

2 November 2019 9:00 am

Do not google Samuel Jean Pozzi. If you want to enjoy Julian Barnes’s The Man in the Red Coat —…

Is there no field in which the Jewish mindset doesn’t excel?

26 October 2019 9:00 am

More than 20 years ago, George Steiner, meditating on 2,000 years of persecution and suffering, posed the ‘taboo’ question that…

An unconventional biography of the visionary architect Frank Lloyd Wright

19 October 2019 9:00 am

Paul Hendrickson’s previous (and very fine) book was Hemingway’s Boat, published in Britain in 2012. It was a nice conceit…

Three remarkable sisters at the heart of 20th-century Chinese politics

12 October 2019 9:00 am

In their lifetime, and afterwards, the Soong sisters from Shanghai seemed like figures from a Chinese fairy tale. There were…

Man’s first instinct has always been to return to the sea

5 October 2019 9:00 am

Travelling the Indus valley late in the third millennium BC you would have been awed by two Bronze Age megacities,…