Wynn Wheldon


To the ends of the earth — but not back

7 November 2015 9:00 am

What’s in a name? The identity of the author offers a clue to one of the themes of this intriguing…

Jews from the Warsaw ghetto surrender to German soldiers after the uprising (Photo: Getty)

A moving tribute to Janusz Korczak, hero of the Warsaw ghetto

27 June 2015 9:00 am

‘My mother and father named me Aron, but my father said they should have named me What Have You Done,…


A novel set in an aquarium in Seattle is as addictive as a first-class detective story

14 March 2015 9:00 am

Books ought to be able to stand on their own, but perhaps it is important to know this about David…


A ghost story without the scary bits

24 January 2015 9:00 am

Two men walk into an ice cream parlour in Austin, Texas, order the three teenage girls working there to undress,…

Gough Whitlam addresses reporters outside the Parliament building in Canberra after his dismissal by Australia's Governor General, 1975 Photo: Getty

A big literary beast's descent into incoherence

8 November 2014 9:00 am

Something odd happened between the advance publicity for this book and its printed appearance. Trailed as addressing the troubled history…

A Little Bill of Fare.
As he journeyed through Europe in the 1870s writing his travelogue A Tramp Abroad, Mark Twain grew increasingly tired of the cuisine — which he described as ‘a monotonous variety of unstriking dishes’. Towards the end of his trip he compiled a list of the foods he longed for most, which were to be prepared and eaten immediately on his return

Things to do: read this book

1 November 2014 9:00 am

It would be perverse not to succumb to the temptation to write this review as a list. So, the first…


Kafka goes to Dubai

30 August 2014 9:00 am

‘X’ is in ‘the Situation’: Joseph O’Neill, author of the clever and superb Netherland, hereby lets us know that his…

W.B. Yeats and T.S. Eliot Photo: Getty

Sorbet with Rimbaud

23 August 2014 9:00 am

The Bloomsbury of the title refers to the place, not the group. The group didn’t have a poet. ‘I would…


The Zone of Interest is grubby, creepy – and Martin Amis's best for 25 years

16 August 2014 9:00 am

‘Everybody could see that this man was not a “monster”, but it was difficult indeed not to suspect that he…


P.J. Kavanagh: ‘I assert my triumphant uselessness, and sing’

7 June 2014 9:00 am

P.J. Kavanagh, if not dismissed or relegated, is often shall we say bracketed, as a ‘nature poet’. The truth is,…

Bouillon in Belgium

Half-poetry, half-prose, half-Belgian – and not half bad

3 May 2014 9:00 am

Patrick McGuinness’s prose trembles on the edge of poetry, occasionally indeed tipping gently over into it. This is thoroughly characteristic…

Large crow feather necklace by Alex Monroe

A master craftsman of the anecdote

15 March 2014 9:00 am

One of the many charms of this book is its sheer unexpectedness, which makes it hard to review, for to…

Portrait of Vernon Scannell by Charlotte Harris, who ‘tried to catch his half smile, and the sadness and humour in his eyes’

Deserter, wifebeater, great poet: the shame and glory of Vernon Scannell

14 December 2013 9:00 am

Vernon Scannell was a thief, a liar, a deserter, a bigamist, a fraud, an alcoholic, a woman-beater and a coward.…

Basil Bunting, 1980
(Photo: Jonathan Williams/
Basil Bunting Poetry Archive, Durham University Library)

A Strong Song Tows Us, by Richard Burton - review

12 October 2013 9:00 am

How minor is minor? ‘Rings a bell’ was more or less the response of two English literature graduates, now successful…

Six Bad Poets, by Christopher Reid - review

28 September 2013 9:00 am

Is poetry in good enough health to be made fun of in this way? The irony is that this long,…

There and Then: Personal Terms 6, by Frederic Raphael - review

31 August 2013 9:00 am

Frederic Raphael is forensic in his description of the failures of successful people. He is enviously superior and he is…


Country Boy, by Richard Hillyer - review

10 August 2013 9:00 am

Under his real name, Charles James Stranks, the author of this little masterpiece wrote on a number of ecclesiastical subjects:…

A Slap in the Face, by William B. irvine - review

3 August 2013 9:00 am

A friend of mine who works for the NHS has been told recently by a superior that his ‘attention to…

They really were in love: Scott, Zelda and their daughter Frances (‘Scottie’) in Paris

Z, by Therese Anne Fowler, Beautiful Fools, by R. Clifton Spargo, Careless People, by Sarah Churchill - review

1 June 2013 9:00 am

The Great Gatsby is one of those great works of literature, like Pride and Prejudice, that appeals as much to…


Holloway, by Robert Macfarlane - review

11 May 2013 9:00 am

This is a very short book recording two visits to the hills around Chideock in Dorset.In the first Robert Macfarlane…

'Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls', by David Sedaris - review

27 April 2013 9:00 am

David Sedaris writes principally for The New Yorker. Urbane, then, American, smart. But is he a memoirist, a fabulist or…

I Know You’re Going to be Happy: A Story of Love and Betrayal, by Rupert Christiansen – review

16 March 2013 9:00 am

This is an unsettling book. On the face of it a memoir by the opera critic of the Daily Telegraph,…

Two Hunting Dogs by Jacopo Bassano (1510-92)

What dogs know about us

2 March 2013 9:00 am

In Aesop’s fable of the Dog and the Wolf, the latter declares that it is better to starve free than…

Redemption through rock and roll

1 December 2012 9:00 am

‘I’m the President, but he’s the Boss’, Barack Obama declared a couple of years ago, and most Spectator readers will…

A 1922 poster promoting a new development in Greenwich and the issuing of housing bonds to fund it

Little boxes, all the same

24 November 2012 9:00 am

This book purports to be a history not of London but of its suburbs. In the end this amounts to…