Sam Leith

The extraordinary life and times of Lithuania’s greatest poet

17 March 2018 9:00 am

The first book that Tomas Venclova read in English was Nineteen Eighty-Four. Not a bad start in the language, given…

Only an idiot would choose to live at any other time than the present

10 March 2018 9:00 am

Steven Pinker’s new book is a characteristically fluent, decisive and data-rich demonstration of why, given the chance to live at…

Truth in fiction

14 October 2017 9:00 am

Robert Harris on fake facts, his new novel – and why totalitarianism is in the air again

‘Adam and Eve in Paradise’, by Lucas Cranach the Elder (1531)

The journey of Adam and Eve

16 September 2017 9:00 am

Trying to reconcile a belief in the literal truth of the Bible with the facts of the world as we…

The dice men

26 August 2017 9:00 am

‘I have a slight bone to pick with you,’ I tell Ian Livingstone as he makes me a cup of…

How I write

12 August 2017 9:00 am

How do they do it? Among writers, the earnest audience member at a literary festival who asks, ‘Do you write…

Nadar ascending aloft in his basket — in this case in his studio, recording the event for mass consumption

The first celebrity

15 July 2017 9:00 am

It’s quite a scene to imagine. A maniacal self-publicist with absurd facial hair takes off in what’s thought to be…

Diary

1 July 2017 9:00 am

Also in Sam Leith’s Diary: the best 18th-century novel since the 18th century and gossiping with David Miller

Diary

29 June 2017 1:00 pm

To Fortnum & Mason last week on the hottest evening of the year to present the Desmond Elliott Prize for…

Study of horses by Théodore Géricault

In praise of neigh-sayers

17 June 2017 9:00 am

Wallace Stevens gave us ‘Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird’. The German scholar Ulrich Raulff, in this meaty book…

Magic lantern slides from the mid-19th century

The game of life

18 February 2017 9:00 am

In the introduction to his new book Steven Johnson starts out by describing the ninth-century Book of Ingenious Devices and…

Magic lantern slides from the mid-19th century

The game of life

16 February 2017 3:00 pm

In the introduction to his new book Steven Johnson starts out by describing the ninth-century Book of Ingenious Devices and…

A few good books

30 July 2016 9:00 am

It is a truth universally acknowledged that whenever ITV or the BBC decides — the latter usually with charter renewal…

Smashing stuff

30 July 2016 9:00 am

‘Joe lay in bed in his mother’s house. He thought about committing suicide. Such thinking was like a metronome for…

Cervantes the seer

18 June 2016 9:00 am

William Egginton opens his book with a novelistic reimagining: here’s Miguel de Cervantes, a toothless old geezer of nearly 60,…

A dispatch from a family of fooshers

2 April 2016 9:00 am

I’d like this to have been one of those Spectator diaries that gives the ordinary reader a glimpse into the…

Diary

31 March 2016 2:00 pm

I’d like this to have been one of those Spectator diaries that gives the ordinary reader a glimpse into the…

Why would the whole world’s book industry gather in booze-free Sharjah?

2 January 2016 9:00 am

Who goes to the Sharjah International Book Fair? Sam Leith, for one

(Photo: Getty)

Worry less about what to call Isis, and more about how to fight them

28 November 2015 9:00 am

We should worry less about what to call Isis, and more about how to fight them

The city became cacophonous with bells: a detail of Claes Visscher’s famous early 17th-century panorama shows old London Bridge and some of the 114 church steeples that constantly tolled the death knells of plague victims

Shakespeare's London: where all the world really was a stage

26 September 2015 8:00 am

Sam Leith on the year 1606, when plague and panic were rife — and all the world really was a stage

The Merchant (left) and the Physician from the Ellesmere manuscript of the Canterbury Tales

A window on Chaucer’s cramped, scary, smelly world

17 January 2015 9:00 am

Sam Leith describes the frequently lonely, squalid and hapless life of the father of English poetry

Two small children dying together in the gutter in the Chinese famine of 1946

How Hitler's dreams came true in 1946

11 October 2014 9:00 am

In 1946, in the aftermath of a devastating war, the world seemed a very dark place indeed, says Sam Leith

Tenements in the Gorbals area of Glasgow — considered some of the worst slums in Britain — are replaced by high-rise flats, c. 1960

Corrie and ready-salted crisps: the years when modern Britain began

13 September 2014 9:00 am

The only thing really swinging in early Sixties Britain, says Sam Leith, was the wrecking-ball

Charles Scott Moncrieff (left) had a deep personal affinity with Proust (right). His rendering of 'À La Recherche du Temps Perdu' is considered one of the greatest literary translations of all time

Soldier, poet, lover, spy: just the man to translate Proust

16 August 2014 9:00 am

Sam Leith is astonished by how much the multi-talented Charles Scott Moncrieff achieved in his short lifetime

‘There is nothin’ like a dame’ — nice songs, shame about the lighting: Mitzi Gaynor in ‘South Pacific’, 1958

Why movie musicals matter – to this author anyway

19 July 2014 9:00 am

Sam Leith finds much to like in a companion to musical films, and concludes that they matter very much – to the author anyway