Molly Guinness

Molly Guinness is The Spectator's archivist.

Will Boast

Life doesn’t care if your misery has a plot – but readers do

24 January 2015 9:00 am

Sometimes writers have to get a memoir out of their system before they can start on their great novel. Will…

Norman Mailer and Dylan Thomas Photo: Getty

Lolita's secret revenge mission, and other daft theories of literary spite

25 October 2014 9:00 am

Richard Bradford has written more than 20 books of literary criticism and biography. This latest one is a compendium of…

Girls sitting South Korea’s famously competitive university entrance test. North London Collegiate offers IBs instead

Escape from the hothouse

6 September 2014 9:00 am

Molly Guinness visits the British school that’s giving Korean children a more rounded alternative to their country’s fearsome exam culture

Lillian Hellman chats with her lover, author Dashiell Hammett Photo: Time & Life/Getty

Lillian Hellman lied her way through life

5 July 2014 9:00 am

Lillian Hellman must be a maddening subject for a biographer. The author Mary McCarthy’s remark that ‘every word she writes…


Sugata Mitra interview: ‘A reduction in resources can cause something nice to happen’

10 May 2014 9:00 am

Children can teach each other, believes Sugata Mitra — if you give them the internet, a big screen and a helpful granny on Skype

Coco Chanel (Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty)

From Göring to Hemingway, via Coco Chanel – the dark glamour of the Paris Ritz at war

19 April 2014 9:00 am

In Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen did a good job of showing how foolish it is to be obsessed by…

A Victorian nanny plays 

What nannies know

14 December 2013 9:00 am

Soon after moving to London at the age of 20, Nina Stibbe wrote to her sister Vic saying, ‘Being a…

Diana Cooper,with her son John Julius Norwich in London, 1944

Darling Monster, edited by John Julius Norwich - review

12 October 2013 9:00 am

It must have been awful for Diana and Duff Cooper to be separated from their only child during the war,…


The best teachers make you fall in love with a subject

7 September 2013 9:00 am

Molly Guinness on those teachers everyone remembers

Death by Dior, by Terry Cooper - review

10 August 2013 9:00 am

This book may sound like it’s going to be about high fashion, but it’s actually about Nazism, satanism, incest and…

The Girl from Station X, by Elisa Segrave - review

29 June 2013 9:00 am

On her seventh birthday, Elisa Segrave’s five-year-old brother Raymond drowned in their grandmother’s swimming pool. From that day onwards, her…


Daniel Radcliffe: why are the leaders of our political parties so uninspiring?

22 June 2013 9:00 am

Former Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe on Che, Noam Chomsky, giving up drink and being ‘frighteningly thorough’

Plus ça change.... Hair by Indira Schauwecker for Toni & Guy, Covent Garden, 2000,
and ‘Coiffure à la Belle Poule’ during the period of American Independence

Hairstyles Ancient and Present, by Charlotte Fiell - review

8 June 2013 9:00 am

The key thing in 18th-century France was to get the hair extremely high. Perching on a small ladder behind his…


We must save the bread-and-butter letter from extinction

4 May 2013 9:00 am

Platitudes by post are not worth the stamp


'Diana Vreeland', by Amanda Mackenzie Stuart - review

9 March 2013 9:00 am

Over 80 and almost blind, Diana Vreeland was wheeled around a forthcoming costume exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum, issuing instructions…

Women, beware these women

5 January 2013 9:00 am

When Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider read this review, they’ll exchange a pitying smile and quietly start waiting for my…

Slippery slopes

3 November 2012 9:00 am

Being sent to finishing school in Bavaria in 1936 was a dream for some English girls: there were winter sports…

A variety of kitchen utensils, most of which are familar today,  by the Dutch painter Cornelis Jacobsz Delff, 1570-1643

The whole kitchen caboodle

27 October 2012 9:00 am

Pretentious, effeminate, sinister and even obscene, the fork of folktale was a sign of loose morals, silly decadence or sexual…

UCAS Prepare To Help Thousands Of Students To Find University Places

Applying myself

22 September 2012 9:00 am

The ‘personal statements’ on university admissions forms are rarely the student’s own work. I have written enough of them to know

Manet’s ‘Répose’. Berthe Morisot’s dress is acceptable for receiving close friends at home, but not for going out in

Finery down to a fine art

22 September 2012 9:00 am

The Impressionists adored clothes. They delighted in strapontins, polonaises and paletots; fans, hats and umbrellas were an extra treat. They…

A Valparaiso romance

30 June 2012 6:00 am

More than 150 years after her last publication, the narrator of this novel, the travel writer Maria Callcott, has taken…

The attraction of repulsion

31 March 2012 11:00 am

Take some boiled maize, chew it, spit it out, put the mixture into an urn, bury it, dig it up…

Ecoutez bien!

18 February 2012 10:00 am

The French make it look easy: small babies sleep through the night, toddlers calmly eat four-course lunches, well-dressed mothers chat…

Don’t mention the war

10 December 2011 10:00 am

It wasn’t easy being the daughter of the artist Avigdor Arikha. In this memoir, Alba Arikha mixes teenage fury with…

Chagrin d’amour

19 November 2011 10:00 am

The horror of love: Nancy Mitford’s first fiancé was gay; her husband, Peter Rodd, was feckless, spendthrift and unsympathetic, and…