Biography

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…

All good friends and jolly good company: life with the Crichel Boys

27 February 2021 9:00 am

In the spring of 1945 three men pooled their resources in order to buy Long Crichel House, a former rectory…

The stuff of fiction: Elizabeth Bowen exploits her extra-marital affairs

20 February 2021 9:00 am

Lara Feigel tells of the passion, pain and sexual exploitation involved in Elizabeth Bowen’s affair with a young married scholar

Francis Bacon: king of the self-made myth

13 February 2021 9:00 am

In 1953, Francis Bacon’s friends Lucian Freud and Caroline Blackwood were concerned about the painter’s health. His liver was in…

The serious rows at Marvel Comics

13 February 2021 9:00 am

If Marvel characters seem dysfunctional, just look at their creators, says Dorian Lynskey

Imagining a future for John Keats — the novelist

6 February 2021 9:00 am

Keats is a much stranger poet than we tend to realise – who shocked his first readers by his vulgarity and gross indecency, says Philip Hensher

Betrayal was a routine business for George Blake

6 February 2021 9:00 am

Kim Philby once remarked to the journalist Murray Sayle that ‘to betray, you must first belong. I never belonged’. Kim,…

How did Robert Maxwell fool most of the people most of the time?

6 February 2021 9:00 am

‘Everyone’s heard of Ghislaine Maxwell,’ says the blurb for Power: The Maxwells, a podcast series launched last month. ‘But there’s…

Rescuing Elizabeth Barrett Browning from her wax-doll image

30 January 2021 9:00 am

Elizabeth Barrett Browning was an ambitious, passionate, determined woman – not the sad-eyed invalid of legend, says Robert Douglas-Fairhurst

A burnt-out case: the many lives of Dr Anthony Clare

23 January 2021 9:00 am

Those who best remember Dr Anthony Clare (1942-2007) for his broadcasting are firmly reminded by this biography that we didn’t…

The programme of art plunder initiated by Hermann Göring continued long after the war’s end

23 January 2021 9:00 am

Making one’s fortune in Occupied Paris was largely a matter of knowing the right people: in fact, the further to…

Murder most casual: why Patricia Highsmith’s thrillers are so chilling

16 January 2021 9:00 am

Patricia Highsmith’s life was filled with more eccentric, disturbing brilliance than most readers can normally handle; and so the chief…

Dolly Parton represents all that’s best about America

16 January 2021 9:00 am

Dolly Parton is the living embodiment of America’s best values, says Philip Hensher

The life and loves of Mary Wollstonecraft

9 January 2021 9:00 am

Ruth Scurr reveals what an impulsive, life-loving individual Mary Wollstonecraft was

The only man who didn’t want to be Cary Grant was Cary Grant himself

19 December 2020 9:00 am

Cary Grant was a hoax so sublime his creator struggled to escape him. He was a metaphor, too, for the…

Mozart the infant prodigy was also a child of the Enlightenment

19 December 2020 9:00 am

‘My dear young man: don’t take it too hard,’ Joseph II counsels a puppyish Mozart, the colour of his hair…

Joseph Ratzinger’s coat of many colours

12 December 2020 9:00 am

A common but flawed assumption about Joseph Ratzinger is that he is simply an ardent conservative. That’s the figure we…