Social history

When family viewing was full of creeping menace

7 August 2021 9:00 am

Strange, really, that the scheduled output of traditional broadcasters became known as ‘terrestrial’ television, given that TV is an etheric…

The foghorn’s haunting hoot is a sad loss

29 May 2021 9:00 am

Halfway through what must count as one of the more esoteric quests, Jennifer Lucy Allan finds herself on a hill…

Too much learning is a dangerous thing

12 September 2020 9:00 am

It is often said that the left does not understand human nature. Yet it is difficult to think of anything…

Where are the scents of yesterday? Entire countries have lost their distinctive smell

18 July 2020 9:00 am

Michael Bywater wonders why the existence of smell still seems such a guilty secret

How kind is humankind?

30 May 2020 9:00 am

Are humans by nature really more puppy than wolf? Oren Harman tests the science

There’s something hot about a hat

15 February 2020 9:00 am

When an American describes a woman as wearing a ‘Park Avenue Helmet’ you know exactly what is meant. This is…

When Cartier was the girls’ best friend

30 November 2019 9:00 am

The word ‘jewel’ makes the heart beat a little faster. Great jewels have always epitomised beauty, love — illicit or…

Searching for Coco on the Côte d’Azur

15 June 2019 9:00 am

Anne de Courcy, an escapee from tabloid journalism, has become a polished historian of British high society in the 20th…

Desperate mothers, abandoned babies: the tragic story of London’s foundlings

4 May 2019 9:00 am

One of the oddest of Bloomsbury’s event venues must be the Foundling Museum. The handsome building on Coram’s Fields houses…

Cracking jokes with Dr Johnson

27 April 2019 9:00 am

I cast my Readers under two general Divisions, the Mercurial and the Saturnine. The first are the gay part of…

Illustrations by Philippe Cousin

The minefield of mime: ‘halt’ to an American signifies ‘hi’ to an Arab

15 December 2018 9:00 am

You may have read about this during the Iraq war. A group of local people approach an American position. A…

Henri-Charles-Ferdinand of Artois, Duke of Bordeaux and his sister Louise-Marie-Therèse of Artois at the Tuileries, by Louis Hersent (1777–1860)

How any mother — or baby — survived childbirth before the 20th century is astonishing

15 December 2018 9:00 am

Between 1300 and 1900 few things were more dangerous than giving birth. For poor and rich, the mortality rate was…

Kenneth Rose

High society and low gossip: the journals of Kenneth Rose

15 December 2018 9:00 am

Kenneth Rose was gossip columnist by appointment to the aristocracy and gentry. He was, of course, a snob — nobody…

‘Decorating for Christmas’ by Alfred W. Cooper (1854)

The pagan feast of Christmas

15 December 2018 9:00 am

This book, an excellent history of Christmas, made me think of a Christmas cartoon strip I once saw in Viz…

James Gillray’s ‘The Wig’. Hairdressing was a good time to catch up on the latest novel

The pleasures of reading aloud

26 August 2017 9:00 am

‘I have nothing to doe but work and read my Eyes out,’ complained Anne Vernon in 1734, writing from her…

Bellamont Forest, Co. Cavan (c.1728), often described as a perfect Palladian villa, was designed by Sir Edward Lovett Pearce for Thomas Coote

Bedding down with the butler in Georgian Ireland

21 May 2016 9:00 am

If you had the resources, Georgian Ireland must have been a very agreeable place in which to live. It was…

How did Britain ever have unarmed criminals?

8 November 2014 9:00 am

Once, both police and criminals in Britain routinely did without guns. How did that happen? And why did it change?

The People’s Songs, by Stuart Maconie - a review

20 July 2013 9:00 am

For Stuart Maconie fans, this book might sound as if it’ll be his masterpiece. In his earlier memoirs and travelogues,…

The Unwinding, by George Packer - review

13 July 2013 9:00 am

The Unwinding is a rather classy addition to the thriving genre of American apocalypse porn. The basic thesis can be…