Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet Marianne Moore Photo: Getty

The mad, mum-fixated maiden aunt of modernism

Marianne Moore’s poems are notoriously ‘difficult’ but her personality and the circumstances of her life are as fascinating today as…

Desmond Fitzgerald, the 29th Knight of Glin, alongside his French wife Louise de la Falaise, 1966 Photo: Getty

The Last Knight, by Robert O’Byrne - review

I have to declare an interest: for many years the Knight and I were the closest of friends until a…

David Bowie with Peter Cook and Dudley Moore in 1973 (Photo: Keystone/Getty)

One Leg Too Few may be one biography too many

It’s no joke, writing about comedians. Their work is funny, their lives are not. Rightly honouring the former while accurately…

‘Swing’, acrylic and collage on canvas, 2003

The abstract art full of 'breasts and bottoms'

Is there any such thing as abstract art? Narratives and coherent harmonies seem to me always to emerge from the…


The man who shared a bed with D.H. Lawrence and Dylan Thomas (though not together)

Rhys Davies was a Welsh writer in English who lived most of his life in London, that Tir na nÓg…

Photograph courtesy of Tina and Terence dooley

Why did Penelope Fitzgerald start writing so late? 

‘Experiences aren’t given us to be “got over”, otherwise they would hardly be experiences.’ The opening sentence of the first…


George Orwell's doublethink

The inventor of ‘doublethink’ was consistently inconsistent  in his own political views, says A.N. Wilson. And no fun at all

J.S. Bach: more complex and human than 
the Haussmann portrait suggests

Was Bach as boring as this picture suggests?

What, one wonders, will John Eliot Gardiner be chiefly remembered for? Perhaps, by many who have worked with him, for…

Landseer’s portrait of Queen Victoria riding in Windsor Home Park four years after the death of Prince Albert

Queen Victoria, by Matthew Dennison - review

When Prince Albert died in 1861, aged 42, Queen Victoria, after briefly losing the use of her legs, ordered that…

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

A Strong Song Tows Us, by Richard Burton - review

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

Mary Evans picture library

Music at Midnight, by John Drury - review

When John Drury, himself an Anglican divine, told James Fenton (the son of a canon of Christ Church) that he…

A Punch caricature of Wilkie Collins, emphasising his sensationalism

Wilkie Collins by Andrew Lycett - review

In the outrageous 2010 press hounding of the innocent schoolteacher Christopher Jefferies over the murder of his young female tenant…

‘Uncle Bill’ as the troops remembered him

Uncle Bill, by Russell Miller - review

Given the outcome of recent military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is pertinent to look for one particular quality…

Olivier in one of his most celebrated roles as Shakespeare’s Henry V in the 1944 film

Olivier, by Philip Ziegler - review

Philip Ziegler is best known for his biographies, often official, of politicians, royalty  and soldiers. They include Harold Wilson, Edward…

J.D. Salinger in 1952, reading from The Catcher in the Rye

Salinger, by David Shields - review

This biography has somewhat more news value than most literary biographies. Its subject worked hard to ensure that. After 1965,…

Matthew Carr’s portrait of his father, Raymond, as Warden of St Antony’s College, Oxford

Raymond Carr by María Jesús Gonzalez - review

This is an unusual book: a Spanish historian writes the life of an English historian of Spain. In doing so,…

It's not just about the bike. (Photo: Phil Walter/Getty)

Land of Second Chances, by Tim Lewis - review

This is a book about Rwanda. It’s a book about cycling. But it’s not, in the end, a book about…

Mysterious and powerful: ‘Event on the Downs’ (1934)

Paul Nash, by Andrew Causey - review

Andrew Causey opens his book on a slightly defensive note: Paul Nash, he says is often identified as Britain’s outstanding…

Unnerving as Bill Sikes in Carol Reed’s Oliver!

What Fresh Lunacy is This?, by Robert Sellers - review

Midway through this startling book, Robert Sellers asks himself a question with such apparent seriousness I barked with laughter: ‘Was…


The Outsider, by Jimmy Connors - review

As a teenager in the 1980s I liked Jimmy Connors. This meant parking my not inconsiderable jealousy that he’d once…


My last chance to follow in Napoleon’s footsteps

St Helena, the island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean on which Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled and died, is…

Nijinski by Georges Barbier in ‘Le Festin /L’Oiseau d’or’ (1912)

Nijinsky, by Lucy Moore - review

The first biography of Vaslav Nijinsky, which appeared in 1934, was written by his wife Romola with the help of…

The Frontman, by Harry Browne - review

According to a story which Harry Browne accepts is surely apocryphal, but which he includes in his book anyway, at…

Portrait of Byron in Greek national dress by Thomas Phillips

Byron’s War, by Roderick Beaton - review

Although Lord Byron is hailed as a national hero in Greece, his legacy has been largely destructive, says David Crane

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

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