Biography

What is the secret of Duran Duran’s durability?

31 July 2021 9:00 am

In my second year at secondary school we were all deeply envious of a girl named Judi Taylor because, obviously,…

The disappearing man: who was the real John Stonehouse?

31 July 2021 9:00 am

Craig Brown describes his various encounters with the MP who notoriously faked his own death in 1974

Foucault was shielded from scandal by French reverence for intellectuals

31 July 2021 9:00 am

Consider the hare and the hyena. The hare, Clement of Alexandria told readers of his 2nd-century sexual self-help manual Paedagogus,…

We’ve embraced William Blake without having any idea of what he was on about

3 July 2021 9:00 am

Whose were those feet in ancient time that walked upon England’s mountains green? That William Blake assumed his readers were…

The short, unhappy life of Ivor Gurney — wounded, gassed and driven insane

3 July 2021 9:00 am

Andrew Motion describes the inner turmoil of the neglected poet Ivor Gurney

Waiting for Gödel is over: the reclusive genius emerges from the shadows

29 May 2021 9:00 am

The 20th-century Austrian mathematician Kurt Gödel did his level best to live in the world as his philosophical hero Gottfried…

Over the rainbow: D.H. Lawrence’s search for a new way of life

22 May 2021 9:00 am

Philip Hensher describes D.H. Lawrence’s restless search of a new way of life

A pawn in the Great Game: the sad story of Charles Masson

22 May 2021 9:00 am

‘Everyone knows the Alexandria in Egypt,’ writes Edmund Richardson, ‘but there were over a dozen more Alexandrias scattered across Alexander…

Stirling Moss’s charmed life in the fast lane

22 May 2021 9:00 am

‘Who do you think you are — Stirling Moss?’ a genially menacing traffic cop would ask a hapless motorway transgressor.…

Out-scooping the men: six women reporters of the second world war

22 May 2021 9:00 am

Two war correspondents were hitching a lift towards Paris in August 1944 when a sudden wave of German bombers forced…

Arthur Bryant: monstrous chronicler of Merrie England

22 May 2021 9:00 am

If you want to judge how much society has changed, you might do worse than visit a few secondhand bookshops.…

How St Ives became Barbara Hepworth’s spiritual home

15 May 2021 9:00 am

‘To see a world in a grain of sand’, to attain the mystical perception that Blake advocated, requires a concentrated,…

Straight lines and grandiose schemes — Napoleon the gardener

8 May 2021 9:00 am

Not content with imposing his will on nations, Napoleon tried to subdue nature too, says David Crane

The high and low life of John Craxton

8 May 2021 9:00 am

Charm is a weasel word; it can evoke the superficial and insincere, and engender suspicion and mistrust. But charm in…

The jab that saved countless lives 300 years ago

24 April 2021 9:00 am

This timely book celebrates one of the most remarkable women of the 18th century. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu was so…

Apostle of modernism: Clive Bell’s reputation repaired

24 April 2021 9:00 am

Clive Bell is the perennial supporting character in the biographies of the Bloomsbury group. The husband of Vanessa Bell, brother-in-law…

An unsuitable attachment to Nazism: Barbara Pym in the 1930s

17 April 2021 9:00 am

Vicars, tea parties and village fetes were a far cry from Barbara Pym’s early enthusiasms, Philip Hensher reveals

Shock tactics: the flamboyant life of a Hanoverian maid of honour

17 April 2021 9:00 am

At the masquerade celebrating the end of the War of Austrian Succession no one could take their eyes off the…

Bob Dylan — from respected young songwriter to Voice of a Generation

10 April 2021 9:00 am

Bob Dylan didn’t just assimilate the Great American Songbook – he vastly increased its size and variety, says Andrew Motion

Sleeping with the enemy: the wartime story of ‘La Chatte’

10 April 2021 9:00 am

The name ‘Carré’ immediately evokes the shadowy world of espionage. Ironically, however, few people today have heard of the real…

Working remotely: five formidable female anthropologists

10 April 2021 9:00 am

I was first sent a version of Undreamed Shores: The Hidden Heroines of British Anthropology in June last year. I…

Philip Roth — most meta of novelists, and most honest

3 April 2021 9:00 am

Philip Roth was prepared to stare the soul resolutely in the face – and for that he can be forgiven most things, says David Baddiel

Bugsy Siegel — the gangster straight out of a Hollywood movie

27 March 2021 9:00 am

Benjamin ‘Bugsy’ Siegel was about as meta-gangsterish as a real life gangster could get. Born in the slums of Manhattan’s…

Edward Said — a lonely prophet of doom

13 March 2021 9:00 am

Even Edward Said would not have claimed to be ‘the 20th century’s most celebrated intellectual’. But neither was he ‘Professor of Terror’, says Justin Marozzi

Ghosts in a landscape: farming life through the eyes of Thomas Hennell

6 March 2021 9:00 am

Thomas Hennell is one of that generation of painters born in 1903 whose collective achievements are such an adornment of…