Anne Chisholm

Henrietta Bingham holds the whip hand with Stephen Tomlin at Ham Spray, home of Lytton Strachey and Dora Carrington

Good stories of bad Bloomsbury behaviour

Even the Group considered Bunny Garnett and Henrietta Bingham quite ‘wayward’. Their powerful charms appealed to both sexes, says Anne Chisholm — and they even managed a fling together


Germaine Greer's mad, passionate quest to heal Australia

Like an old woman in a fairy story, Germaine Greer, now in her late seventies, has taken to lurking in…

Woman in black: Madeleine St John, due for revival. 
‘Her steadiest relationships were with a series of cats’

Breakdowns, suicide attempts — and four great novels

Among the clever young Australians who came over here in the 1960s to find themselves and make their mark, a…

Almost English, by Charlotte Mendelson - review

Novels about growing up have two great themes: loss of innocence and the forging of identity. With this sparky, sharp-eyed…

Truth and beauty

Almost 20 years ago, Alice Munro, the Canadian genius of the short story, was interviewed by the Paris Review. She…

The serpent in the garden

Loss of innocence happens to us all and is one of the great themes of literature. With The River, a…

What was it all for?

What happens to a novelist who becomes the conscience of a nation? Nadine Gordimer, who is now 89 and whose…


Irrepressible: The Life and Times of Jessica Mitford by Leslie Brody

Has the Mitford saga delighted us long enough? Some 17 non-fiction books about the family, mostly by its own members,…


What did you do in the war, Mummy?

By tradition, ‘What did you do in the war?’ is a question children address to Daddy, not to Mummy.


A grief ago

The cautionary slogan ‘less is more’ has never been the American writer Joyce Carol Oates’ watchword.


Lessons for life

All modern biographies, one could say, are books of secrets; certainly all biographers during the past four decades have felt entitled to ferret around in their subject’s private as well as public lives.


No love lost

There is chick lit, or witless, ill-written, juvenile popular fiction, and then there is superior chick lit, which is smart and amusing and written for grown ups.


Her own best invention

Lesley Blanch, who died in 2007 aged almost 103, did not want this book written.


An institution to love and cherish

Books about marriage, like the battered old institution itself, come in and out of fashion with writers, readers and politicians, but never quite die away.

Jim’s especial foibles

As a young man in the 1970s Michael Bloch was the architectural historian and diarist James Lees- Milne’s last (if, we are assured, platonic) attachment, and later became his literary executor.

Raising the last glass

My Father’s Tears, by John Updike

The benefit of the doubt

Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel

Deborah Mitford

The châtelaine and the wanderer

In Tearing Haste: Letters between Deborah Devonshire and Patrick Leigh Fermor, edited by Charlotte Mosley

Growing old gracefully

Ninety may be the new 70, but it is also seriously old, and no picnic. In her short, sharp, disconcerting…

A very honourable rebel

In the autumn of 1995 Jessica Mitford, the youngest of the sisters, known to one and all since childhood as…

Fighting free of Father

When the second world war began, Nicholas Mosley, the distinguished novelist son of the fascist leader Sir Oswald, who thought…

Rampant fascism near Henley

There can seldom have been a better first sentence in a book by a daughter about her mother: ‘“Heil Hitler!”…

The dangerous edge of things

Listing page content here If her name rings a bell at all, Mary Wesley, who died aged 90 in 2002,…

Counting fewer and fewer blessings

One of these anthologies (Late Youth) is small and sprightly, with a pretty, jaunty cover depicting one cheery old person…

A bad judge, except of art

According to this new biography by an earnest, academically inclined American, Peggy Guggenheim deserves to be given a respected place…