Philip Hensher

No worries: John Updike in his late fifties, on the beach at Swampscott, Mass

Up close and personal

26 April 2014 9:00 am

In recycling his most intimate encounters as fiction – including amazing feats of promiscuity in small-town New England – John Updike drew unashamedly on his own experiences for inspiration, says Philip Hensher

Kim Philby at the press conference he called in 1955 to deny being the ‘Third Man’

Kim Philby got away with it because he was posh

8 March 2014 9:00 am

Kim Philby’s treachery escaped detection for so long through the stupidity and snobbery of the old-boy network surrounding him, says Philip Hensher

When intellectuals are clueless about the first world war

1 February 2014 9:00 am

No one alive now has any adult experience of the first world war, but still it shows no sign of…

If only Craig Raine subjected his own work to the same critical scrutiny he applies to others' 

7 December 2013 9:00 am

Debunking reputations is now out of fashion, says Philip Hensher, and Craig Raine should give it up — especially as he always misses the point

Why do we pounce on Wagner's anti-Semitism, and ignore that of the Russian composers?

9 November 2013 9:00 am

Philip Hensher on how an impassioned, chaotic group of amateur 19th-century composers created the first distinctively Russian music

‘The Goldfinch’ by Carl Fabritius, the theft of which is central to Donna Tartt’s new novel

Donna Tartt can do the thrills but not the trauma

12 October 2013 9:00 am

Donna Tartt is an expert practitioner of what David Hare has called ‘the higher hokum’. She publishes a long novel…

Salinger, by David Shields - review

7 September 2013 9:00 am

This biography has somewhat more news value than most literary biographies. Its subject worked hard to ensure that. After 1965,…

Philip Hensher reviews the Man Booker prize longlist

24 August 2013 9:00 am

The Man Booker prize has strong years and weak years. There have been ones when the judges have succeeded in…

‘Imperial Federation showing the map of the world, British Empire’, by Captain J.C. Colombo, c.1886 (Royal Geographical Society, London)

Churchill and Empire, by Lawrence James - a review

20 July 2013 9:00 am

Philip Hensher says that Churchill’s engagement with the empire does not reveal him at his finest hour