Book review – biography

Constant Lambert at the piano

The wit, wisdom and womanising of Constant Lambert

24 May 2014 9:00 am

Philip Hensher on the tragically short life of the ebullient and multi-talented musician, Constant Lambert

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 worries: John Updike in his late fifties, on the beach at Swampscott, Mass

Up close and personal

26 April 2014 9:00 am

In recycling his most intimate encounters as fiction – including amazing feats of promiscuity in small-town New England – John Updike drew unashamedly on his own experiences for inspiration, says Philip Hensher

Churchill reading in his library at Chartwell

Churchill was as mad as a badger. We should all be thankful

19 April 2014 9:00 am

The egotistical Churchill may have viewed the second world war as pure theatre, but that was exactly what was needed at the time, says Sam Leith

‘Less political satire than back-handed homage:Charlie Chaplin in a scene from The Great Dictator

Charlie Chaplin, monster

12 April 2014 9:00 am

No actual birth certificate for Charles Spencer Chaplin has ever been found. The actor himself drew a blank when he…

Was Roy Jenkins the greatest prime minister we never had?

29 March 2014 9:00 am

Roy Jenkins may have been snobbish and self-indulgent, but he was also a visionary and man of principle who would have made a good prime minister, says Philip Ziegler

The talent and tragedy of Richard Pryor

22 March 2014 9:00 am

The troubles of Richard Pryor’s life are well known — from his childhood in a brothel to his self-immolation via…

Kim Philby at the press conference he called in 1955 to deny being the ‘Third Man’

Kim Philby got away with it because he was posh

8 March 2014 9:00 am

Kim Philby’s treachery escaped detection for so long through the stupidity and snobbery of the old-boy network surrounding him, says Philip Hensher

Secrets of Candleford: the real Flora Thompson

1 March 2014 9:00 am

Melanie McDonagh on Flora Thompson, whose revealing account of rural Oxfordshire life at the turn of the 19th century became a literary classic

A German soldier in the Western Desert in 1942 scans the horizon for enemy movements

A spectacular faller in the Benghazi stakes

1 March 2014 9:00 am

What an unedifying affair the war in the North African desert was, at least until November 1942 and the victory…

The Artist Formerly Known As Whistler

22 February 2014 9:00 am

Sam Leith on the exasperating, charismatic painter who floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee

Hillary, Obama, Osama — and a hapless Bill

22 February 2014 9:00 am

The actor David Niven was once badgered by the American columnist William F. Buckley to introduce him to Marc Chagall,…

Richard Branson deserves (some) respect

8 February 2014 9:00 am

Tom Bower’s first biography of Sir Richard Branson, in 2000, was memorable for its hilarious account of the Virgin tycoon’s…

Portrait of Sheila by Cecil Beaton

Australia's entrancing Sheila

1 February 2014 9:00 am

The ‘dollar princesses’, those American heiresses who crossed the Atlantic in search of a titled husband, are familiar figures from…

The two people who brought us The Grapes of Wrath

25 January 2014 9:00 am

John Steinbeck (1902–1968), an ardent propagandist for the exploited underdogs of the Great Depression, had barely enough money for subsistence…

Breakdowns, suicide attempts — and four great novels

18 January 2014 9:00 am

Among the clever young Australians who came over here in the 1960s to find themselves and make their mark, a…

John Bellany: potent, prolific, patchy

11 January 2014 9:00 am

When John Bellany died in August last year, an odyssey that had alternately beguiled and infuriated the art world came…

What took Francis Mitterrand to the top?

14 December 2013 9:00 am

Of a dashing political rival, François Mitterrand once remarked: He was more intelligent than I was, he thought faster than…

'A little bit of rape is good for a man's soul': the outrageous life of Norman Mailer

23 November 2013 9:00 am

Heroically brave and mad, prodigious in his industry and appetites, Norman Mailer was an altogether excessive figure. Since his death…