Journal of a disappointed man

Simon Goldhill introduces his new book by recalling a lunch with his editor, who suggested he make a pilgrimage and…

Pearls before swine

The story of Harry the Valet is the stuff of fiction.


Theatre of the macabre

Sam Leith marvels at Victorian Britain’s appetite for crime, where a public hanging was considered a family day out and murder became a lurid industry in itself


On the brink

Stephen Potter’s Lifemanship contains a celebrated tip for writers who want to ensure good reviews.


Mystery of the empty tomb

John Henry Newman was an electrifying personality who has attracted numerous biographers and commentators.


Life beyond the canvas

Angela Thirlwell’s previous book was a double biography of William Rossetti (brother to the more famous Dante Gabriel) and his wife Lucy (daughter of the more famous Ford Madox Brown).


The grandest of old men

Mr Gladstone’s career in politics was titanic.


Double vision

Thomas Babington Macaulay’s early essays in the Edinburgh Review were an immediate success, and soon made him a respected figure in Whig society.

Cheering satanism

‘For my generation of Essex teenagers, Dennis Wheatley’s novels represented the essential primer in diabolism,’ Ronald Hutton, the historian and expert on paganism, recalls.

Concealing and revealing

In 1837 The Quarterly Review’s anonymous critic — actually, one Abraham Hayward — turned his attention to Charles Dickens, then in the first flaring of his popularity as the author of Sketches by Boz, The Pickwick Papers and Oliver Twist.

Surprising literary ventures

Ermyntrude and Esmeralda, by Lytton Strachey