Books

Original Sin

29 May 2014 1:00 pm

When first they ushered me into that hall To take my place on a cheap fold-out seat, My eyes clamped…

‘Venus Anadyomene’, c.1520, by Titian,

Books and arts

24 May 2014 9:00 am

Constant Lambert at the piano

The wit, wisdom and womanising of Constant Lambert

24 May 2014 9:00 am

We owe Constant Lambert (1905–1951) a huge amount, and the flashes of brilliance that survive from his short life only…

Piketty’s decaff Marxism would be just as oppressive and intrusive as the old variety

24 May 2014 9:00 am

If a title works once, the chances are it will work again. Half the punch of Marx’s masterwork is in…

The Little Mermaid, illustrated by Ivan Bilibin

The fairytale life of Hans Christian Andersen

24 May 2014 9:00 am

It has long been my habit, when approaching a new biography, to read the account of the subject’s childhood first,…

No one would want to live in Jane Gardam's stories – but they're an amazing place to visit

24 May 2014 9:00 am

In the world of Jane Gardam’s stories the past is always present, solid and often unwanted and always too big,…

The man who went to Hell and back – for a laugh

24 May 2014 9:00 am

Since the passing of Auberon Waugh, there haven’t been many really successful right-wing comedians. The Mayor of London is one.…

The success of the Flashman series owed something to the inspired choice of Arthur Barbosa as designer of the covers

The derring-do that created Flashman

24 May 2014 9:00 am

I met George Macdonald Fraser when he was the features editor of the Glasgow Herald. He was a very good…

The road to bestsellerdom

22 May 2014 1:00 pm

I met George Macdonald Fraser when he was the features editor of the Glasgow Herald. He was a very good…

The success of the Flashman series owed something to the inspired choice of Arthur Barbosa as designer of the covers

The road to bestsellerdom

22 May 2014 1:00 pm

I met George Macdonald Fraser when he was the features editor of the Glasgow Herald. He was a very good…

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…

Depression – an agony more powerful than love

17 May 2014 9:00 am

Rachel Kelly, a respected former journalist on the Times, might seem the most blessed of women: five children, marriage to…

The Snow Queen crawls at snail’s pace – and you wouldn’t want it any other way

17 May 2014 9:00 am

For all would-be novelists whose stumbling block is that they can’t resist describing every single sensation in depth — the…

Valentine typewriter, 1969

Ettore Sottsass, Jnr: more than just a funny name

17 May 2014 9:00 am

Personally, I have always been sensitive about a credibility gap, a difference in prestige, between literary and visual cultures.  More…

A lost treasure of Japanese fiction – pocket-sized but world class

17 May 2014 9:00 am

Think haiku, netsuke, moss gardens… Small is beautiful. Japanese art, a scholar of the culture once commented, is great in…

Gertrude Bell with Sir Percy Cox on a visit to Mesopotamia in 1917. ‘She was never actually a member of the Foreign Office; rather a semi-detached and useful wartime extra’. mansell/time&life pictures/getty images

The Foreign Office's long war on women

17 May 2014 9:00 am

I faltered during the preface to this account of the rise of the female (British) diplomat. Helen McCarthy, a historian…

From Bletchley Park to Take Your Pick – this baroness’s memoir is a blast

17 May 2014 9:00 am

Jean Trumpington’s memoir, published as she closes in on her 92nd birthday, is an absolute blast from the opening page.…

‘Venus and Bacchus’, 1532–40, by Giovanni Battista di Jacopo, known as Rosso Fiorentino

Books and arts

17 May 2014 9:00 am

‘Leaping Cross’, 2013, by Alan Davie

Books and arts

10 May 2014 9:00 am

Three of the best: Edward Thomas (left), Wilfred Owen (above right) and Edmund Blunden

Look again – the first world war poets weren't pacifists

10 May 2014 9:00 am

If the poets of the first world war probably enjoy a higher profile now than they have done at any…

What! Has John Sutherland really not read Don Quixote from cover to cover?

Judge a critic by the quality of his mistakes

10 May 2014 9:00 am

What the title promises is not found inside. It is a tease. John Sutherland says he has ‘been paid one…

Mid-life crisis, 13th-century style

10 May 2014 9:00 am

The word delicate is seldom a compliment.  I once threw a saucepan of hot soup out of a fifth storey…

The Italians who won the war – against us

10 May 2014 9:00 am

Italy entered the second world war in circumstances very similar to those in which it signed up for the first.…

Josefa Duran, the flamenco dancer known as ‘Pepita’

Wealth is no guarantee of happiness. Look at the Sackville-Wests

10 May 2014 9:00 am

When Robert Sackville-West was writing Inheritance (2010), his history of Knole and the Sackvilles, he was ‘struck’, as he recalls…

Exclamation marks, no; aertex shirts, yes!

10 May 2014 9:00 am

Jonathan Meades, the architectural, food and cultural commentator, appears on television in a pair of retro shades and a trademark…