Christopher Howse

Photograph by Charles Sturge
St George as depicted in The Golden Legend

St George: patron saint of England, patronised by all

What did St George do? Killed a dragon, as everyone knows. And yet, as Samantha Riches points out, no mention…

The two billionth view

Christmas Quiz

Set by Christopher Howse.

Illustrated by Castro

Even Cilla’s biographer admits that critics were justified in knocking the ‘prurience ‘of Blind Date

Five of the best celebrity biographies of 2014

Cilla Black has become a strange creature during her 50 years in showbiz. When her husband Bobby was in hospital…

The jilted bride

Charles Saatchi’s new book of photos makes me feel sick

Charles Saatchi, the gallery owner, has created his own Chamber of Horrors in this thick, square book, ‘inspired by striking…

‘Flying Rock’

Floating bodies, seeing hands, rippling skies - is Jerry Uelsmann’s photomontage a tragic dead-end?

An untitled photograph by Jerry Uelsmann from 1991 shows a rock like Magritte’s floating in the sky between an Ansel…

What! Has John Sutherland really not read Don Quixote from cover to cover?

Judge a critic by the quality of his mistakes

What the title promises is not found inside. It is a tease. John Sutherland says he has ‘been paid one…

A street in Madrid: there is something more interesting behind the sunny façade…

The right way to see Madrid

I got Madrid utterly wrong for quite a long time. It’s a lovely city to walk in, and I thought…


The Christmas Quiz answers

Says who? 1. David Cameron. 2. The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Justin Welby. 3. Nick Clegg. 4. Prince…

P G Wodehouse writing at his home in Paris, 1945 Photo: Getty

What's notable about 'a lovely little old rectangular green French silver whittling knife'? 

In the reminiscences of Bertie Wooster we find this: As I sat in the bathtub, soaping a meditative foot and…

‘For most of us, ballet is simply a bore’, says Charles Saatchi — 
except when photographed by Tatiana Mikhina

Charles Saatchi's photo play

The game that Charles Saatchi plays in The Naked Eye is to find photographs of subjects that look surprisingly like…

E.E. Cummings, ‘looking like a plainsman fresh out of the barbers after delivering 300 head of Texas longhorns’

How much can you tell about E.E. Cummings from this photo?

Do you think you can tell things about writers from the way they look in a painting or photograph? A…

Charing Cross Road, 1951

Notes on…London’s secondhand bookshops

After seeing the Dalai Lama receive an award at St Paul’s Cathedral, I thought I’d look in at some secondhand…

The Cleansing of Naaman by Elisha. Woodcut from the Biblia Sacra Germanaica

The Serpent’s Promise, by Steve Jones - review

The weight of bacteria that each of us carries around is equal to that of our brain, a kilogram of…

‘Ware’s Victorian Dictionary of Slang and Phrase', by J. Redding Ware - review

James Redding Ware, with his idiosyncratic treatment of slang, plunges the reader straight into the late 19th-century Bartholomew Fair of…


Christmas Quiz

It’s time for the immemorial Christmas custom in which the family gathers round the iPad, cracks another walnut, and sharpens…

The answers

Weird world1 Mark Rothko’s2 George Washington3 Nadine Dorries4 The Duchess of Cornwall5 Sakhalin6 The 158th Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race7…

Ceiling fresco of the Last Judgment in Marienburg Abbey, South Tyrol, Italy

The beating of heavenly wings

How did the cherubim, solemn figures of beaten gold in the Holy of Holies of the Hebrew Temple, become chubby…


Catalonia Notebook

We sang a hymn called ‘Poble en Marxa’ at the beginning of Mass in the working-class parish of Sant Blai.…


Spanish Notebook

Round a bend in the mountain path, between the flowering rosemary and the wild box bushes, above the spine of…


Christmas Quiz

Set by Christopher Howse
Illustrated by Castro


Landscapes of grief

The caption on the photograph (above) makes a difference: ‘A young boy grieves at the funeral of his father who…


Low life and high style

The return of Roy Kerridge