Books

Will you last beyond the madeleine? Radio 4’s In Search of Lost Time reviewed

24 August 2019 9:00 am

The madeleine upon which Proust’s seven-volume epic In Search of Lost Time pivots makes its significant appearance after just 18…

Lines of beauty: Nancy Ekholm Burkert’s illustration for James and the Giant Peach

Before Quentin Blake, there was Nancy Ekholm Burkert – Dahl’s forgotten illustrator

27 July 2019 9:00 am

Bunnies were out. Beatrix Potter had the monopoly on rabbits, kittens, ducks and Mrs Tittlemouses. ‘I knew I had to…

‘The Yucca Motel’, 1995, by Fred Sigman

Geoff Dyer on the poetry of motels

22 June 2019 9:00 am

It’s to be expected. You take photographs in order to document things — Paris in the case of Eugène Atget…

‘True Love’, 1981, by Posy Simmonds

The quiet genius of Posy Simmonds, Hogarth’s heir

1 June 2019 9:00 am

‘It’s no use at all,’ says Posy Simmonds in mock despair, holding up her hands. ‘I can’t tell my left…

Why is a book like a sarcophagus?

25 May 2019 9:00 am

‘Is it like a packet of fags?’ asked my husband, less annoyingly than usual, but still in some confusion. I…

‘Come on, cancel me’: An interview with Bret Easton Ellis

11 May 2019 9:00 am

‘I grew up in LA where we all thought fame was a joke,’ says Bret Easton Ellis. ‘My class was…

Lance encounters: a plate from The Book of Tournaments, Maximilian’s remarkable encyclopedia of jousting

The joy of jousting

4 May 2019 9:00 am

Emperor Maximilian I liked to say he invented the joust of the exploding shields. When a knight charged and his…

The eyes have it: ‘The Zebra’, 1763, by George Stubbs

What makes British art British?

27 April 2019 9:00 am

There’s no avoiding the Britishness of British art. It hits me every time I walk outside and see dappled trees…

Northern soul: Whitby Abbey was built on the site where the date of Easter was decided

Whitby Abbey is at the heart of Britain’s spiritual and literary history

20 April 2019 9:00 am

The 199 steps up to the ruins of Whitby Abbey are a pilgrimage; they always have been. And any good…

Scala Radio is a real threat to Radio 2

16 March 2019 9:00 am

It’s not surprising given the way that electronic communication has taken over so much of our daily business, minimising human…

Kingsley Amis (Getty Images)

Kingsley Amis on Lolita: It’s not pornographic enough

9 March 2019 9:00 am

From ‘She was a child and I was a child’ by Kingsley Amis, 6 November 1959: The only success of…

Dominique Swain as Lolita and Jeremy Irons as Humbert in Adrian Lyne’s 1997 film (Rex Fea-tures)

Would any publisher dare to print Lolita now?

9 March 2019 9:00 am

The other day Will Self unburdened himself on the state of fiction with crushing hauteur. ‘What’s now regarded as serious…

The first great English artist – the life and art of Nicholas Hilliard

23 February 2019 9:00 am

When Henry VIII died in 1547, he left a religiously divided country to a young iconoclast who erased a large…

A letter from Vincent van Gogh to his younger brother Theo, dated 28 October 1883

‘Lock him in a motel & he’d do something astonishing’: Hockney on the genius of Van Gogh

23 February 2019 9:00 am

Being in the south of France obviously gave Vincent an enormous joy, which visibly comes out in the paintings. That’s…

The people have not forgotten me: the exiled Empress of Iran interviewed

15 December 2018 9:00 am

Somewhere in the bowels of the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art is a portrait from a lost world. Its subject…

Twiggy photographed by Justin de Villeneuve in the Rainbow Room at Big Biba, early 1970s. [JUSTIN DE VILLENEUVE]

A short history of art deco – from high art to two-tone shoes, garden gates to Twiggy

1 December 2018 9:00 am

On 10 September 1973 the 1930s Kensington High Street department store formerly known as Derry & Toms reopened as Big…

Joanna Murray-Smith as Patricia Highsmith in Switzerland at the Ambassadors Theatre. Photo: Robbie Jack/ Corbis via Getty Images

Intelligent, unfussy, literate – the West End needs more plays like this: Switzerland reviewed

1 December 2018 9:00 am

I know nothing about Patricia Highsmith. The acclaimed American author wrote the kind of Sunday-night crime thrillers that put me…

King David with his musicians: a page from the Vespasian Psalter, 8th century

To say this is a ‘once in a generation’ exhibition seems absurdly modest

17 November 2018 9:00 am

‘The barbarians drive us to the sea, the sea drives us to the barbarians; between these two means of death…

Angela Carter was a master of radio drama

29 September 2018 9:00 am

The writer Angela Carter (born in 1940) grew up listening to the wireless, her love of stories, magic and the…

Face value: Glenn Close as Joan Castleman in The Wife showing how much can be expressed with the tremor of an eyelid

Glenn Close rescues this clumsy new adaptation: The Wife reviewed

29 September 2018 9:00 am

The Wife is an adaptation of the Meg Wolitzer novel (2003) and stars Glenn Close. Her performance is better than…

Ralph Abernathy (seated centre) and C.B. King (seated left) sit on a wagon as 300 protesters march to Atlanta. Photo: Getty/Bettmann

What it was like to be a black lawyer in the deep south in the 60s

8 September 2018 9:00 am

To have been a black lawyer in the deep south of America in the early 1960s would have taken a…

Captain Scott’s 1911 expedition to Antartica, with the Terra Nova anchored in the background, from The Colour of Time

The artist who breathes Technicolour life into historic photographs

4 August 2018 9:00 am

There is something of The Wizard of Oz about Marina Amaral’s photographs. She whisks us from black-and-white Kansas to shimmering…

A new exhibition gives us the real Tolkien – not his awful legacy

7 July 2018 9:00 am

To no one’s surprise, the Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth exhibition at the Bodleian in Oxford, where J.R.R. spent so much…

Girl power – or groupthink in written form?

Who really wants to read feminist children’s books?

30 June 2018 9:00 am

A friend of mine who commissions book reviews has added a sub-category to the list of titles coming up: ‘femtrend’,…

Joanna Lumley plays Mrs God in BBC Radio 4's new play Michael Frayn's Pocket Playhouse (Credit: ITV/ Rex/ Shutterstock)

Only Radio 4 would allow Ian McKellan and Joanna Lumley to play Mr and Mrs God

2 June 2018 9:00 am

One sphere that podcasts have so far not much penetrated is drama. Audible.co.uk is itching to develop its own brand…