Biography

The heartbreak left in the wake of the Terra Nova

12 March 2022 9:00 am

The story of the five women waiting at home for Captain Scott and his doomed polar party is naturally occluded…

The fuss over Mary Seacole’s statue has obscured the real person

5 March 2022 9:00 am

Mary Seacole may not have qualified as a nurse in the modern sense, but British troops benefited greatly from her healing skills, says Andrew Lycett

Masters of the opium trade: the fabulous wealth of the Sassoons

19 February 2022 9:00 am

David Abulafia admires the shrewdness, generosity and panache of the Sassoons over many generations

Playing until her fingers bled: the dedication of the pianist Maria Yudina

19 February 2022 9:00 am

The 20th century was an amazing time for Russian pianists, and the worse things got, politically and militarily, the more…

Watcher of the skies: John Constable, painter and meteorologist

12 February 2022 9:00 am

Philip Hensher describes how John Constable’s energy and imagination freed British art from the constraints of the past

The women who challenged a stale, male philosophy

29 January 2022 9:00 am

Kathleen Stock describes how four women undergraduates in 1940s Oxford challenged an arid, modish philosophy

Formidable woman of letters: the grit and wisdom of Elizabeth Hardwick

22 January 2022 9:00 am

Elaine Showalter celebrates the grit and wisdom of Elizabeth Hardwick

Beautiful enigma: Garbo’s mystery lives on

15 January 2022 9:00 am

‘We didn’t need dialogue’, glares Gloria Swanson’s crazed silent picture star midway through Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard. ‘We had faces!’…

Who’s to blame if Britney Spears has been ‘devoured’ by celebrity?

11 December 2021 9:00 am

All the questions around Britney Spears can be condensed into this one: who should we blame? For a long time,…

How Noddy and Big Ears conquered the world

11 December 2021 9:00 am

Love her or loathe her, Enid Blyton and the safe, sunny world she cleverly marketed will remain a publishing phenomenon, says Sam Leith

Anthony Holden is nostalgic for journalism’s good old bad old days

27 November 2021 9:00 am

After a career spanning 50 years, 40 books and about a million parties, Anthony Holden has written a memoir. Based…

The life of René Magritte was even more surprising than his art

27 November 2021 9:00 am

René Magritte’s life, so outwardly respectable, was as full of surprises as his art, says Philip Hensher

How Shane MacGowan became Ireland’s prodigal son

20 November 2021 9:00 am

I once stood on a Dublin street with Shane MacGowan and watched little old ladies who can’t ever have been…

Far from being our dullest king, George V was full of surprises

13 November 2021 9:00 am

‘Victorian’ stuck, and ‘Edwardian’ too. But ‘Georgian’, as an adjective associated with the next monarch in line, never caught on.…

Even the greatest tennis players need to be adored

6 November 2021 9:00 am

Louis MacNeice once wrote that if you want to know what chasing the Grail is like, ask Lancelot not Galahad.…

What motivates Peter Thiel apart from the desire for more wealth?

6 November 2021 9:00 am

If you’ve only heard one thing about Peter Thiel (and many have heard nothing at all) it is that he…

Celebrating Tony Wilson, the founder of Factory Records

6 November 2021 9:00 am

To many people Tony Wilson was a bigmouth Mancunian, brash music impresario and jobbing television presenter. But to the generation…

Louis-Ferdinand Céline was lucky to escape retribution in 1945

11 September 2021 9:00 am

They rather like bad boys, the French. Louis-Ferdinand Céline (1894-1961) is one, in a tradition that stretches from François Villon…

Was Josiah Wedgwood really a radical?

28 August 2021 9:00 am

No wonder Josiah Wedgwood, the 18th-century master potter, was a darling of the Victorians. From W.E. Gladstone to Samuel Smiles…

Should the Duke of Windsor have been tried for treason?

21 August 2021 9:00 am

In Traitor King, Andrew Lownie shows how the Duke of Windsor — the former Edward VIII, who abdicated in 1936…

Why did the Allies dismiss the idea of a German resistance movement?

21 August 2021 9:00 am

In 1928, a modest young lecturer from Wilwaukee, Mildred Harnack, née Fish, arrived in Berlin to begin her PhD in…

Fascist, anti-Semite and dupe: the dark side of G.K. Chesterton

21 August 2021 9:00 am

The Sins of G.K. Chesterton demands our attention because, as Richard Ingrams notes in his introduction, the literature on this…

W.G. Sebald’s borrowed truths and barefaced lies

21 August 2021 9:00 am

Why did W.G. Sebald risk his reputation by telling such strange, repeated lies, wonders Lucasta Miller

An interest in the bizarre helps keep melancholy at bay

7 August 2021 9:00 am

Philip Hensher finds Robert Burton’s perception of the world and the human condition endlessly fascinating

A true bohemian: the story of Nico’s rise and fall

7 August 2021 9:00 am

It is well established that artists are not always the nicest people. On the surface, the life of the model,…