Sylvia Plath

With the all-encompassing model of Moby-Dick behind him, Hoare presents us with a vast and billowing medley of marinaria

Spirits from the vasty deep…

29 July 2017 9:00 am

‘The sea defines us, connects us, separates us,’ Philip Hoare has written. His prize-winning Leviathan, then a collection of essays…

Robert Lowell c. 1940

Love, Robert Lowell and poetic licence

27 February 2016 9:00 am

The conceit of this book — the author’s third on Robert Lowell — is strong, although its execution is less…

Patti Smith, Amsterdam, 1976

Patti Smith grows old too gracefully

14 November 2015 9:00 am

‘Jesus died for somebody’s sins/ but not mine’: the opening lines of Patti Smith’s 1975 debut album, Horses, find a…

Hughes in 1986: Bate simply fails to make the case his book stands on – that the poet was a sadist

An unauthorised, and unconvincing, biography of Ted Hughes

3 October 2015 8:00 am

In Testaments Betrayed, Milan Kundera says: ‘Biographers know nothing about the intimate sex lives of their own wives, but they…

Autumn: time for a pie

Autumn, season of conkers and new boots

26 September 2015 8:00 am

Each year when I see the first conker of the autumn I think: fire up the ancestral ovens! This incendiary…

‘Lorna Doone’s bower’. An illustration from R.D. Blackmore’s ‘Romance of Exmoor’, 1869

A pork-pie and Capri-Sun fuelled hike around England’s moors

14 June 2014 8:00 am

‘No, no’ I said, when The Spectator’s literary editor rang up, ‘I’m sure you must be able to find someone…