Writing

The Proustian power of handwriting

15 May 2021 9:00 am

Towards the end of April, my mum sent me a letter. She doesn’t write as a rule — we speak…

The joy and suffering of writing a book

3 April 2021 9:00 am

Spring is coming. There was snow in the garden till last week, here in Canada, where I have been spending…

The poetic beauty of science

13 March 2021 9:00 am

Safe spaces, diversity quotas, gender-neutral pronouns, culturally relative facts, heteronormative hegemony. Are my right-on credentials right on enough? Am I…

How I’d write Covid: The Thriller

13 March 2021 9:00 am

How I’d write Covid: The Thriller

John le Carré’s wild MI6 Christmas parties

13 February 2021 9:00 am

In the middle of December, for reasons I’m coming to, I woke early in a posh hotel. I lay semi-dozing…

‘People confuse sadness with darkness’: the complicated world of Mary Gaitskill

19 December 2020 9:00 am

An interview with the American novelist Mary Gaitskill

City of gold: Peter Ackroyd on the undimmed spirit of London

19 December 2020 9:00 am

Peter Ackroyd on the undimmed spirit of London

We don't want pandemic novels – we want gentle escapism

28 November 2020 9:00 am

I’m often asked when I’ll write a pandemic novel. I’m not sure I’d ever be tempted, though the backdrop of…

Bangkok’s unravelling was easy to see coming

31 October 2020 9:00 am

Three years ago I sat down to write a novel set in my adopted home city. Placing its claustrophobic action…

Barbara Amiel: My memoir has cost me my best friends

26 September 2020 9:00 am

The only female writers of importance I have personally met are Margaret Atwood and Joan Didion, both of whom are…

I hate joggers more than ever

25 April 2020 9:00 am

Empathy and kindness in these difficult times come more easily to some than others, but I’m trying. I had heart…

Salman Rushdie: ‘The implausible has become everyday’

25 April 2020 9:00 am

Salman Rushdie on writing in the Age of Anything-Can-Happen

Michael Morpurgo: Kale smoothies, writing, Pilates – my strict isolation schedule

28 March 2020 9:00 am

Writers like me are used to long hours alone. I’ve never enjoyed that side of it. I don’t like the…

I won’t read American Dirt – but not because the author has the wrong skin colour

7 February 2020 10:00 pm

Readers of The Spectator who keep up with the latest literary hissy fits could have predicted (perhaps with a groan)…

Why do monsters make such good writers?

24 January 2020 10:00 pm

Did any of you know that most of the 20th-century monsters — Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Ceausescu, Duvalier, and even the…

‘I aspire to write for posterity’: An interview with Tom Stoppard

21 December 2019 9:00 am

Sir Tom Stoppard is Britain’s — perhaps the world’s — leading playwright. Born Tomas Straussler in Zlin, Czechoslovakia, in 1937,…

‘I was a tortured, obviously brilliant child’: James Ellroy interviewed

21 December 2019 9:00 am

James Ellroy is occasionally quoted as saying he’s the greatest American crime novelist ever. The man sometimes called the ‘demon…

Eggs and hard liquor: Spectator writers on their favourite examples of meals in literature

21 December 2019 9:00 am

P.J. O’Rourke I love poems but hate poetasters, love wine but detest oenophiles, love food but can’t stand foodies. Therefore…

Dear Mary: Why does my feminist friend always expect me to pay for dinner?

7 December 2019 9:00 am

Q. One of my very best female friends has got into the habit of lecturing me on gender equality, in…

Why do we write dedications in books?

28 September 2019 9:00 am

When my siblings and I were clearing out my dad’s bookshelves (he died earlier this year), I made sure to…

It’s all Greek to me: a schoolchild’s homework on a wax tablet, Egypt, 2nd century AD

Would James Joyce have finished Ulysses without coloured pens?

11 May 2019 9:00 am

The Mesopotamians wrote on clay and the ancient Chinese on ox bones and turtle shells. In Egypt, in about 1,800…

Dear Mary: how can I stop myself procrastinating?

20 April 2019 9:00 am

Q. I am not a professional writer but on the strength of a short piece I contributed to a Festschrift…

Why catastrophising is my idea of a good time

14 April 2018 9:00 am

When, on a test of general knowledge, the highly educated score far worse than chimpanzees, university degrees may be overrated…

Taki: How I learned to write

13 January 2018 9:00 am

Gstaad  What I miss most up here in the Alps are the literary lunches conducted on the fly with writers…

Ian Rankin’s diary: Paris, ignoring Twitter and understanding evil

21 November 2015 9:00 am

After ten days away, I spent last Friday at home alone, catching up on washing, shopping for cat food, answering…