Samuel Johnson

The holy pedigree of cats

20 April 2019 9:00 am

It is claimed that the prophet Muhammad loved cats. His favourite was called Muezza and he would do without his…

As the Romans knew, eternal life is hopeless without eternal youth

16 March 2019 9:00 am

A research professor has pointed out that lengthening human lifespan threatens to turn us into living zombies unless we can…

Sweet sorrow: the only grief we mention is that with comfort buried inside it

9 June 2018 9:00 am

It was the phrase ‘sad sweet feeling in your heart’ that arrested my attention. But who would have thought it…

With rain threatening, Jane Bennet departs for Netherfield — with her mother’s approval. Illustration by Hugh Thomson for Pride and Prejudice (1894)

Rain, shine and the human imagination — from Adam and Eve to David Hockney

12 September 2015 9:00 am

‘Pray don’t talk to me about the weather, Mr Worthing,’ pleads Gwendolen in The Importance of Being Earnest. ‘Whenever people…

Portrait thought to be of Francis Barber by Sir Joshua Reynolds

Francis Barber: reluctant member of Dr Johnson’s mad ménage

23 May 2015 9:00 am

We know a great deal about Samuel Johnson and virtually nothing about his Jamaican servant, Francis Barber. The few facts…

That irritating use of ‘progressive’ is more than a century old

16 May 2015 9:00 am

I was interested by the widespread annoyance at the use of progressive by the lefty parties before the election. Irritation…

William Hogarth’s ‘Night’, in his series ‘Four Times of the Day’ (1736), provides a glimpse of the anarchy and squalor of London’s nocturnal streets

Dickens’s dark side: walking at night helped ease his conscience at killing off characters

21 March 2015 9:00 am

In England, walking about at night was a crime for a very long time. William the Conqueror ordained that a…

The dreadful prospect of taking up agriculture in old age

Ancients on oldies: tips on ageing from the Romans are all Greek to Richard Ingrams

14 March 2015 9:00 am

A few months ago I went to a lunch at Univ, my old college in Oxford, to celebrate the 95th…

The Stonewall dinner left me with one question: why are volunteers so horrible to one another?

24 January 2015 9:00 am

I watched the video with some trepidation. Stonewall (the campaigning gay and lesbian equality organisation) had just sent me the…

Should ‘suicide’ mean pig-killing?

8 November 2014 9:00 am

There was a marvellous man in Shakespeare’s day known as John Smyth the Sebaptist. ‘In an act so deeply shocking…

My tax avoidance tip – win literary prizes!

17 May 2014 9:00 am

David Cameron is said to want a woman to be chairman of the BBC Trust, now that Chris Patten has…