beauty girl cry

Proof that the British hardly ever had a stiff upper lip

The last time I cried was September 1989. That was my first week at public school. The reason I cried…

White glazed bowl, Shunzhi-Kangxi period, Qing dynasty, 1650–70

The perils of porcelain – and the pleasures of Edmund de Waal

A.S. Byatt on the dark, deadly secrets lurking beneath a calm, white surface


Trials of the century: sex, sodomy, espionage, theft and fraud

Jeremy Hutchinson was the doyen of the criminal bar in the 1960s and 1970s. No Old Bailey hack or parvenu…


From ambrosia to zabaglione — now with added slavery

This Oxford Companion ranges from the sweet to the decidedly salty, while being the most politically correct reference book you will ever consult, says Paul Levy

Hitler with the Goebbels family in the late 1930s

Joseph Goebbels: Hitler’s ‘little doctor’ was devoted unto death

It is ironic that this weighty biography of Hitler’s evil genius of a propaganda minister is published on the day…

Mary Shelley by Richard Rothwell

There’s something about Mary (Wollstonecraft and Shelley)

If Mary Wollstonecraft, as she once declared, ‘was not born to tred in the beaten track’, the same with even…

Following Galileo’s discoveries, a rugged, cratered moon is depicted (with papal approval) by Ludovico Cigoli in his ‘Assumption of the Virgin in the Pauline Chapel’

Moving heaven and earth: Galileo’s subversive spyglass

We live in an age of astronomical marvels. Last year Europe’s Rosetta spacecraft made a daring rendezvous with the comet…

Although Keynes hated his appearance, he was much painted by the Bloomsbury Group, including by Roger Fry (above)

John Maynard Keynes: transforming global economy while reading Virginia Woolf

To the 21st-century right, especially in the United States, John Maynard Keynes has become a much-hated figure whose name is…

Self confessed mass murderer Anders Breivik Photo: Getty

Anders Brievik: lonely computer-gamer on a killing spree

In 2011, Anders Breivik murdered 69 teenagers in a socialist summer camp outside the Norwegian capital of Oslo, and eight…


John Aubrey and his circle: those magnificent men and their flying machines

John Aubrey investigated everything from the workings of the brain, the causation of winds and the origins of Stonehenge to…

Portrait of Lord Dufferin, 1893

The first Lord Dufferin: the eclipse of a most eminent Victorian

The first Marquess of Dufferin and Ava is largely forgotten today — rotten luck for the great diplomat of the…

A Palestinian boy during a rally in Beit Hanun in the northern Gaza Strip, 2015

Tony Judt: a man of paradox who made perfect sense

Tony Judt was not only a great historian, he was also a great essayist and commentator on international politics. Few…

Muriel Lester looks on as John Galsworthy lays a brick at the foundation ceremony for the Kingsley Hall Photo: Getty

Muriel and Nellie: two radical Christians build Jerusalem in London’s East End

This is the tale of Muriel Lester, once famous pacifist and social reformer, and Nellie Dowell, her invisible friend. Nellie…

Composer Franz Schubert Photo: Getty

This Winter Journey goes far beyond expectation

You can tell a lot about a book from its bibliography. It’s the non-fiction equivalent of skipping to the final…

Anne Frank Photo: Getty

What makes mankind behave so atrociously? Ian Buruma and Joanna Bourke investigate

The first interaction between two men recorded in the Bible involves a murder. In the earliest classic of English literature,…

Sidney Bechet in 1939

Blue Note's 75 years of hot jazz

This is a big book, a monumental text with 800 illustrations, 400 of them in colour, to be contemplated more…

Former Czech President Vaclav Have Photo: Getty

What went so wrong for Vaclav Havel?

The unforgettable moment a quarter of a century ago when the Berlin Wall came down was the most vivid drama…

The end of The End of History. Photo by Robert Giroux/Getty Images

What’s that I hear? Francis Fukuyama back-pedalling frantically

The problem with a futuristic thesis — particularly when summarised by a futuristic title — is that it is likely…


Is America headed for tyranny? It is when the other side's in charge...

For the last 50 years Americans have been decrying the increase of presidential power whenever the party they oppose is…

Portrait of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, with his pet monkey, attributed to Jacob Huysmans

Thug, rapist, poetic visionary: the contradictory Earl of Rochester

Philip Hensher on the scandalous 17th-century courtier whose hellfire reputation has overshadowed his fine satirical poetry

Churchill reading in his library at Chartwell

Churchill was as mad as a badger. We should all be thankful

The egotistical Churchill may have viewed the second world war as pure theatre, but that was exactly what was needed at the time, says Sam Leith

English explorers on expedition in the Sudan, 1860-63

Sudan was always an invented country. Maybe we should invent it again

Sudan — a country that ceased to exist in 2011 — is or was one of the last untouristed wildernesses…

Kim Philby at the press conference he called in 1955 to deny being the ‘Third Man’

Kim Philby got away with it because he was posh

Kim Philby’s treachery escaped detection for so long through the stupidity and snobbery of the old-boy network surrounding him, says Philip Hensher

O.Z. Whitehead, Dorris Bowdon, John Carradine and Henry Fonda in the 1940 film, The Grapes of Wrath

The two people who brought us The Grapes of Wrath

John Steinbeck (1902–1968), an ardent propagandist for the exploited underdogs of the Great Depression, had barely enough money for subsistence…

Irwin Piper takes his sheep to slaughter

How we lost the seasons

... for tomorrow traditional seasonal rituals may just be ghostly memories of a vanished world, says Melanie McDonagh