Ysenda Maxtone Graham

‘Have you done this in class?’ Essays often require a lot of help from parents – and Wikipedia

What’s the point of homework?

Homework is meant to inculcate a love of learning in students, but Ysenda Maxtone Graham thinks it’s at least as likely to do the reverse


The perfect big bang that opens this book was too good to be true

Houses, as any plumber will testify, do sometimes blow up in gas explosions, destroying their contents and inhabitants, but would…


Breast-feeding isn't always best

New mothers who can’t keep to the breast-feeding orthodoxy face needless misery and shame


Bubble-wrap, berry-picking and the secret pleasures of destruction

The secrets of bubble-wrap and other delicious little sensations


Which comes first — the chicken or the pig?

Here are two parallel books, both by Americans, both 260 pages (excluding indexes) long, both using ‘likely’ as an adverb.…


What does your front garden say about you?

What does your front garden say about you?

‘Ass And The Angel’. A child kisses a donkey at the seaside, circa 1935. Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images

Brian Sewell does some donkey work: how Britain’s best-known art critic put his ass on the line

I suppose all children’s authors write the stories they would have liked to read as children. But in the case of…


In praise of messy old kitchens

Against sterile modern kitchens

Few shall be chosen… perhaps only one in eight

The truth about private school admissions

Your child may not Get In, says Ysenda Maxtone Graham


How to stop being scared of full stops

Modern manners and the fear of the full stop


Bish bash Bosphorus: Elif Shafak’s saga of love and death in Istanbul is crammed with incident on every page

If you like to curl up by the fire with a proper, old-fashioned, saga-style tale about a boy and his…

Singers Recording

A beautiful speaking voice is a window to the soul

A beautiful speaking voice draws attention to the words spoken

The ossuary at Sedlec in Czechoslovakia, where garlands of skulls drape the vault. The chapel is thought to contain the skeletons of up to 70,000 people

In search of dead men's bones

Skulls, femurs, ribs, pelvises, piled on top of each other in a chaotic heap: this, Denise Inge discovered, was what…

Charles Rennie Mackintosh's Glasgow School of Art

It’s not easy for a middle-aged woman to get inside the head of a 12-year-old innkeeper’s son in 1914

Esther Freud wrote dazzlingly in the first person through the eyes of a five-year-old child in her first novel, Hideous…


Decline and rise again

Verb says to noun, ‘Would you like to conjugate?’ Noun replies, ‘No, I decline.’ A nice witticism for Latin-lovers brought…


The vote on women bishops is a triumph for our diplomatic Archbishop

The vote on women bishops is a triumph for our diplomatic Archbishops


The Snow Queen crawls at snail’s pace – and you wouldn’t want it any other way

For all would-be novelists whose stumbling block is that they can’t resist describing every single sensation in depth — the…

A wounded soldier is carried through the mud near Boesinghe during the battle of Passchendaele in Flanders Photo: Getty

When No Man's Land is home

Countless writers and film-makers this year will be trying their hand at forcing us to wake up and smell the…


There is nothing quite like the prep-school play

Ysenda Maxtone Graham uncovers the secrets of a storming prep-school play

As Green as Grass, by Emma Smith - review

The title, the subtitle, the author’s plain name, even the jacket’s photograph of a laughing old lady in sunglasses: none…

A Corner of Paradise, by Brian Thompson - review

Author has late-blossoming romance with authoress, both divorcees, and they live together in a cramped house in Harrogate full of…


Don’t jump, Felipe!

The weird world glimpsed at through maths exam questions

Female undergraduates were goaded into growing vegetables by being threatened with a diet consisting only of rice

A Green and Pleasant Land: How England’s Gardeners Fought the Second World War, by Ursula Buchan – review

Here are some statistics about wartime fruit- and vegetable-growing in England which this book tells us. In 1942-3, there were…

Leaving Sussex

I read William Nicholson’s new novel in proof before Christmas. ‘The must-read book for 2013 for lovers of William Boyd…