Biography

Will Keir Starmer ever learn to loosen up?

24 February 2024 9:00 am

The Labour leader comes across as compassionate and hard-working, but so ill at ease in front of the cameras that even his close friends fail to recognise him

Four dangerous visionary writers

17 February 2024 9:00 am

Simon Ings examines the lives of Maxim Gorky, Maurice Barrès, Gabriele D’Annunzio and Ding Ling, whose propagandism helped shape – and misshape – the 20th century

The strangeness of Charles III

27 January 2024 9:00 am

‘He can cry at a sunset’, says one courtier of the King. A bullied child and an intellectual among George Formby fans, Charles dreams of gardening and plants mazes

Hanif Kureishi – portrait of the artist as a young man

13 January 2024 9:00 am

Descriptions of the gifted author tearing up the literary landscape of the late 20th century are deeply poignant when set alongside Kureishi’s recent despatches from hospital

Milton Friedman – economic visionary or scourge of the world?

13 January 2024 9:00 am

Monetarism, with which his name is associated, has long defined economic policy. But what would Friedman have made of the banking collapse, so soon after his death in 2006?

The horrors of the ‘Upskirt Decade’

25 November 2023 9:00 am

The century began as a monstrous time to be famous and female – epitomised by the Tulsa judge who, in 2006, seemed to rule that no woman had a right to privacy in public

The data-spew about Bob Dylan never ends

4 November 2023 9:00 am

In his latest volume of biography, Clinton Heylin spares us no details about Dylan’s misogyny and cranky obsessions during his almighty midlife crisis

The force of nature that drove Claude Monet

28 October 2023 9:00 am

A compulsion to paint en plein air would remain with the great Impressionist for life, as well as a questing need to find new ways to express what he saw and felt

‘We are stuck like chicken feathers to tar’: Elizabeth Taylor’s description of the fabled romance

21 October 2023 9:00 am

The Burton-Taylor relationship was either one of the greatest love stories of all time or a suicide pact carried out in relentless slow motion

Keeping a mistress was essential to John le Carré’s success

14 October 2023 9:00 am

The novelist himself admitted that his infidelities ‘produced a duality and tension that became a necessary drug for my writing’

Out of the shadows

14 October 2023 9:00 am

Unlike his attention-seeking brother David Stirling, Bill was a careful planner, responsible for many successful intelligence-gathering operations behind enemy lines

Gentle genius

7 October 2023 9:00 am

Dissatisfied with his unfinished epic, the dying Vergil called for his scrolls to be burned, but was fortunately overruled by the Emperor Augustus

Travels in Italy with the teenage Mozart

30 September 2023 9:00 am

Jane Glover follows the rapturous Wolfgang around Venice, Bologna, Florence and Naples on three journeys that would change the young composer’s life

The astonishing truth about 007

30 September 2023 9:00 am

The world would never be quite the same again after we first glimpsed the casino of Royale-les-Eaux at three in the morning, says Philip Hensher

An obituarist’s search for the soul

16 September 2023 9:00 am

Snatches of memoir, poetry and observation from a writer whose main preoccupation is recording the lives of others

The many lives of George Weidenfeld, legendary publisher and ladies’ man

2 September 2023 9:00 am

Born in a poor quarter of Vienna, the refugee took London by storm, married four times, survived financial ruin and died eulogised the world over

The conman who duped thousands with a patently absurd story

26 August 2023 9:00 am

Promising his investors dazzling riches with his tale of hidden Ghanaian gold, the charismatic John Ackah Blay-Miezah pulled off one of the most brazen scams of the past century

Complicated and slightly creepy: the Bogart-Bacall romance

19 August 2023 9:00 am

Lauren Bacall was 25 years younger than Humphrey Bogart. Unlike his previous wives, she stayed – though Roger Lewis finds something creepy about their relationship

Going for broke

12 August 2023 9:00 am

The founding member of the Small Faces was playing an instrument from the age of six, but was forever haunted by the fear of MS, the inherited disease which eventually killed him

George Orwell’s unacknowledged debt to his wife Eileen

12 August 2023 9:00 am

Eileen O’Shaughnessy’s creative influence on her husband George Orwell has been ignored for far too long, says Marina Benjamin

Four disparate intellectuals

5 August 2023 9:00 am

Of Wolfram Eilenberger’s four intellectual heroines, Simone Weil alone really counts as a ‘visionary’, forsaking philosophy for a kind of saintly mysticism

Albrecht Dürer’s genius for self-promotion

5 August 2023 9:00 am

Albrecht Dürer was an undoubted genius – and no one was more conscious of it than the artist himself, says Philip Hoare

The Teutonic goddess who ‘created’ the Rolling Stones

29 July 2023 9:00 am

Of the Stones’ talented wives and girlfriends, Anita Pallenberg contributed most, dictating the band’s style and even how they should remix tracks

Why did Truman Capote betray his ‘swans’ so cruelly?

15 July 2023 9:00 am

In an effort to arrest his slide into middle-aged bloat, he attempted a ‘Proustian’ novel, but spilling the secrets of the women he claimed to love was social suicide

A Blakean heaven or hell: fish with coloured lanterns and teeth like primeval beasts

8 July 2023 9:00 am

On 11 June 1930, William Beebe and Otis Barton descended into the Caribbean depths to glimpse a world no man had seen before