Biography

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…

Diplomatic daughters go behind the scenes at Yalta

17 October 2020 9:00 am

From Downing Street to Pennsylvania Avenue, history’s powerful inter-family influencers, whether spouses or children, have long operated behind weighty political…

Victoria Wood: stiletto in an oven glove

17 October 2020 9:00 am

Even if you didn’t have an Auntie Dot in Cockermouth (the one who ate a raffia drinks coaster, mistaking it…

‘I wonder about his humanity’: Malcolm McDowell on Stanley Kubrick

17 October 2020 9:00 am

Twenty-five years after making Spartacus, a parable of Roman decadence and rebellious slaves shot in California, Stanley Kubrick made Full…

The ‘unremarkable’ life of SS officer Robert Griesinger

3 October 2020 9:00 am

In October 2011 Daniel Lee was at a dinner party at which a Dutch woman told a disturbing story. It…

A cat’s-eye view of 18th-century social history

3 October 2020 9:00 am

Jeoffry is, by now, one of the best-known cats in literary history. And unlike the Cheshire Cat, Mr Mistoffelees, Orlando,…

We all love a poltergeist story

3 October 2020 9:00 am

There are fashions in the paranormal as in everything else. Since the famous Enfield hauntings of the late 1970s, poltergeists…

Ladies’ man: Tom Stoppard’s love life revealed

26 September 2020 9:00 am

Tom Stoppard is a non-stop genius of jokes – but many of them make his latest biographer uneasy, says Craig Raine

The magic of JFK remains undimmed

12 September 2020 9:00 am

It’s easy to forget that John F. Kennedy lived such a short life. At 43, he was the second youngest…

As Lucian Freud’s fame increases his indiscretions multiply

5 September 2020 9:00 am

Staying with Peregrine Eliot (later 10th Earl of St Germans) at Port Eliot in Cornwall, Lucian Freud remembered that the…

The paradox of Graham Greene – searching for peace in the world’s warzones

5 September 2020 9:00 am

Graham Greene was constantly searching for peace of mind along with escapist thrills, says Nicholas Shakespeare

Never a dull sentence: the journalism of Harry Perry Robinson

29 August 2020 9:00 am

Is Boris Johnson a fan of Harry Perry Robinson? If he isn’t, he really ought to be. Reading this absorbing…

It’s time to leave Chopin in peace

22 August 2020 9:00 am

There’s a scene early on in A Song to Remember — Charles Vidor’s clunky Technicolor film of 1945 — in…

The heroic couple who defied Hitler

8 August 2020 9:00 am

Philippe Sands on the heroic couple who defied Hitler and paid the ultimate price

Killing time: the poetry of Keith Douglas

1 August 2020 9:00 am

Keith Douglas is perhaps the best-known overlooked poet. He died following the D-Day landings in 1944, and his Collected Poems…

A power for good: the Sharp family were a model of vision and humanitarianism

18 July 2020 9:00 am

Who would imagine that Johann Zoffany’s celebrated 1780 depiction of the extensive Sharp family happily making music on their pleasure…

Why Niki Lauda was considered the bravest man in sport

20 June 2020 9:00 am

Formula One motor racing is the perennial, worldwide contest that most reliably gratifies hero-worshipping, power-worshipping, money-worshipping, technology-worshipping ghouls, and some…

The many rival identities of Charles Dickens

6 June 2020 9:00 am

Robert Douglas-Fairhurst explores the many rival identities of Charles Dickens

Houdini looks bound to captivate us forever

16 May 2020 9:00 am

Give thanks to the person who invented Venetian blinds, they say, or it would be curtains for us all. Curtains…

Without Joseph Banks, Cook’s first voyage might have been a failure

9 May 2020 9:00 am

When the wealthy young Joseph Banks announced that he intended joining Captain Cook’s expedition to Tahiti to observe the Transit…

René Dreyfus: the racing driver detested by the Nazis

2 May 2020 9:00 am

I have driven a racing car. On television, it looks like a smooth and scientific matter. It is not. A…