‘The Discovery of the Large, Rich, Beautiful Empire called Guiana’, from ‘Newe Weld un Americanische Historien’, by Johann Ludwig Gottfried, 1631

The strange history of Willoughbyland, modern-day Suriname

8 August 2015 9:00 am

John Gimlette on the strange and superbly told story of Willoughbyland, England’s ‘lost’ colony


In the empire stakes, the Anglo-Saxons were for long Spain’s inferiors

19 July 2014 9:00 am

‘Every schoolboy knows who imprisoned Montezuma and who strangled Atahualpa.’ Macaulay, anticipating Gove, was complaining that the schoolboys by contrast…

The dirty dozen

2 June 2012 7:00 pm

I have this fantasy in which I’m the Emperor Nero. I’m relaxing in my toga, and there are these slave…


Enterprising Scots

16 July 2011 12:00 am

If you wish to see how Scotland changed in the century after the Act of Union (1707), you might visit and compare the two houses in Edinburgh that belong to the National Trust for Scotland.


All eyes and ears

14 August 2010 12:00 am

Both of these books aim, in their different ways, to cater for Britain’s long-standing obsession with espionage and other forms of political and military intelligence.


Cherchez la femme

12 May 2010 12:00 am

The 22nd Earl of Erroll, Military Secretary in Kenya in the early part of the second world war, was described by two of his fellow peers of the realm as ‘a stoat — one of the great pouncers of all time’ and ‘a dreadful shit who really needed killing’.


Triumph of the will

7 April 2010 12:00 am

Alistair Urquhart describes himself as ‘a lucky man as well as an angry man’.


In the shadow of Mau Mau

24 March 2010 12:00 am

When the Kenyan human rights campaigner, Maina Kiai, recently addressed the House of Commons, his list of policy recommendations probably surprised many MPs.


Becoming a Victorian

17 March 2010 12:00 am

Winston Churchill was a racist. He said things like ‘I hate people with slit eyes and pig-tails. I don’t like the look of them or the smell of them’.


A slave to her past

10 February 2010 12:00 am

It is to Andrea Levy’s credit that for this, her eagerly-awaited fifth novel, she adopts a narrative approach strikingly different from that of the best-selling, prize-winning, televised Small Island.