Charles II

Behind the Throne is a cracking read about a neglected subject – the royal household

6 October 2018 9:00 am

Never judge a book by its cover. To look at, this is a coffee-table book with shiny pages which make…

They shared a love of books, beekeeping, print-collecting, alchemy, geometry, music, astronomy and the English language: John Evelyn (left) and Samuel Pepys

Two enquiring minds

19 August 2017 9:00 am

Samuel Pepys, wrote John Evelyn, was ‘universally beloved, hospitable, generous, learned in many things’ and ‘skilled in music’. John Evelyn,…

Monmouth’s charm and dark, mesmerising beauty made him an object of international fascination

James Duke of Monmouth: perhaps the best king we never had

4 June 2016 9:00 am

In Pepys’s famous words, James, Duke of Monmouth was ‘the most skittish, leaping gallant that ever I saw, always in…

Ford Madox Brown celebrates 17th-century advances in science in his painting ‘William Crabtree watches the Transit of Venus in 1639’

A.C. Grayling reduces history to a game of quidditch

12 March 2016 9:00 am

It is very difficult to uncover accurate connections between ideas and events in history. A.C. Grayling is a philosopher and…

Uncle Vanya, The Almeida

Kit-car Chekhov: Uncle Vanya at the Almeida reviewed

27 February 2016 9:00 am

Director Robert Icke has this to say of Chekhov’s greatest masterpiece: ‘Let the electricity of now flow into the old…

Hawksmoor’s plan for a baptistery at St Paul’s Cathedral

Nicholas Hawksmoor: a genius in his own right

13 February 2016 9:00 am

In the conclusion to his very substantial study of England’s least known and most misunderstood Baroque architect, Owen Hopkins discusses…

Portrait of Pepys, after John Hayls. The Diary for 17 March 1666 reads: ‘This day I begin to sit [for Hayls], and he will make me, I think, a very fine picture.... I sit to have it full of shadows, and do almost break my neck looking over my shoulder to make the posture for him to work by.’

The joy of an unexpurgated Pepys — without the bother of reading it oneself

22 August 2015 9:00 am

We all know about Samuel Pepys witnessing the Great Fire in his Diaries, but how many have read the definitive…

Colonel Blood: thief turned spy and Royal pensioner

23 May 2015 9:00 am

In the words of one of his contemporaries ‘a man of down look, lean-faced and full of pock holes’, the…

Virtually identical in their languorous loucheness. Clockwise from top left: Louise de Kérouaille Barbara Palmer, Moll Davis and Nell Gwyn

The merry monarch and his mistresses; was sex for Charles II a dangerous distraction?

31 January 2015 9:00 am

In a tone of breezy bravado in keeping with their concept of their subject’s character, Don Jordan and Michael Walsh…

All you’ll ever need to know about the history of England in one volume

13 December 2014 9:00 am

Here is a stupendous achievement: a narrative history of England which is both thorough and arresting. Very few writers could…

Portrait of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, with his pet monkey, attributed to Jacob Huysmans

Thug, rapist, poetic visionary: the contradictory Earl of Rochester

28 June 2014 9:00 am

Despite being an earl, Rochester is very nearly a major poet. His poems and letters were torn up by a…