Biography

All good friends and jolly good company: life with the Crichel Boys

27 February 2021 9:00 am

In the spring of 1945 three men pooled their resources in order to buy Long Crichel House, a former rectory…

The stuff of fiction: Elizabeth Bowen exploits her extra-marital affairs

20 February 2021 9:00 am

Lara Feigel tells of the passion, pain and sexual exploitation involved in Elizabeth Bowen’s affair with a young married scholar

Francis Bacon: king of the self-made myth

13 February 2021 9:00 am

In 1953, Francis Bacon’s friends Lucian Freud and Caroline Blackwood were concerned about the painter’s health. His liver was in…

The serious rows at Marvel Comics

13 February 2021 9:00 am

If Marvel characters seem dysfunctional, just look at their creators, says Dorian Lynskey

Imagining a future for John Keats — the novelist

6 February 2021 9:00 am

Keats is a much stranger poet than we tend to realise – who shocked his first readers by his vulgarity and gross indecency, says Philip Hensher

Betrayal was a routine business for George Blake

6 February 2021 9:00 am

Kim Philby once remarked to the journalist Murray Sayle that ‘to betray, you must first belong. I never belonged’. Kim,…

How did Robert Maxwell fool most of the people most of the time?

6 February 2021 9:00 am

‘Everyone’s heard of Ghislaine Maxwell,’ says the blurb for Power: The Maxwells, a podcast series launched last month. ‘But there’s…

Rescuing Elizabeth Barrett Browning from her wax-doll image

30 January 2021 9:00 am

Elizabeth Barrett Browning was an ambitious, passionate, determined woman – not the sad-eyed invalid of legend, says Robert Douglas-Fairhurst

A burnt-out case: the many lives of Dr Anthony Clare

23 January 2021 9:00 am

Those who best remember Dr Anthony Clare (1942-2007) for his broadcasting are firmly reminded by this biography that we didn’t…

The programme of art plunder initiated by Hermann Göring continued long after the war’s end

23 January 2021 9:00 am

Making one’s fortune in Occupied Paris was largely a matter of knowing the right people: in fact, the further to…

Murder most casual: why Patricia Highsmith’s thrillers are so chilling

16 January 2021 9:00 am

Patricia Highsmith’s life was filled with more eccentric, disturbing brilliance than most readers can normally handle; and so the chief…

Dolly Parton represents all that’s best about America

16 January 2021 9:00 am

Dolly Parton is the living embodiment of America’s best values, says Philip Hensher

The life and loves of Mary Wollstonecraft

9 January 2021 9:00 am

Ruth Scurr reveals what an impulsive, life-loving individual Mary Wollstonecraft was

The only man who didn’t want to be Cary Grant was Cary Grant himself

19 December 2020 9:00 am

Cary Grant was a hoax so sublime his creator struggled to escape him. He was a metaphor, too, for the…

Mozart the infant prodigy was also a child of the Enlightenment

19 December 2020 9:00 am

‘My dear young man: don’t take it too hard,’ Joseph II counsels a puppyish Mozart, the colour of his hair…

Joseph Ratzinger’s coat of many colours

12 December 2020 9:00 am

A common but flawed assumption about Joseph Ratzinger is that he is simply an ardent conservative. That’s the figure we…

War was never Sir Edward Grey’s métier

12 December 2020 9:00 am

This meaty but easily digested biography pivots around the events either side of that fateful evening of 4 August 1914…

Why I stopped reading novels

5 December 2020 9:00 am

New York I received a letter from a long-time Spectatorreader, James Hackett, enquiring about books I am reading. It is…

No writer was better suited to chronicle the Depression than John Steinbeck

28 November 2020 9:00 am

John Steinbeck didn’t believe in God — but he didn’t believe much in humanity either. When push came to shove,…

Four German-speaking philosophers in search of a theme

28 November 2020 9:00 am

How do you write a group biography of people who never actually formed a group? Such is the challenge Wolfram…

Driven to distraction — the unhappy life of Vivien Eliot

14 November 2020 9:00 am

Do you think your mother slept with T.S. Eliot? That was the question I needed to ask the 98-year-old in…

The courage of a madman: Maurice Wilson’s doomed assault on Everest

14 November 2020 9:00 am

Reinhold Messner, the first person to climb all 14 of the planet’s peaks higher than 8,000 metres, is probably the…

Sybille Bedford — a gifted writer but a monstrous snob

7 November 2020 9:00 am

Sybille Bedford died in 2006, just short of 95. She left four novels, a travel book, two volumes of legal…

Tom Bower pulls his punches with his life of Boris Johnson

24 October 2020 9:00 am

The Prime Minister may have lost his bounce –but perhaps that’s no bad thing, says Lynn Barber

The gospel of separation according to Malcolm X

24 October 2020 9:00 am

In late April 1962 Los Angeles police shot and killed an unarmed black man, Ronald X Stokes, during a disturbance…