Portrait of Byron in Greek national dress by Thomas Phillips

Byron’s War, by Roderick Beaton - review

1 June 2013 9:00 am

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

1 June 2013 9:00 am

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


Everest, by Harriet Tuckey

1 June 2013 9:00 am

This book, as the subtitle explains, makes a bold claim: Griffith Pugh was the ‘unsung hero’ of the 1953 ascent…

Royal Ascot - Day 1

Henry Cecil, by Brough Scott - review

1 June 2013 9:00 am

This is by far the best book on racing I have ever read. It combines a truly extraordinary story —…

Rogues’ gallery: 
Georgiana was ‘a liar, cheat and exploiter of her friends’; her husband, the fifth Duke, was ‘an insensitive and autocratic brute’; while her son was ‘manically self-absorbed’

The Devonshires, by Roy Hattersley - review

4 May 2013 9:00 am

Anne Somerset wonders why Roy Hattersley chose to write a history of a family he so clearly disapproves of

Margaret Thatcher: The Authorized Biography, by Charles Moore, and Not for Turning, by Robin Harris - review

4 May 2013 9:00 am

It is a measure of Lady Thatcher’s standing that her death has been followed not only by the mealy-mouthed compliments…

The Spectator’s Notes

27 April 2013 9:00 am

The first volume of my biography of Margaret Thatcher was published on Tuesday. Since Lady Thatcher had stipulated that the…

The Spectator’s Notes

13 April 2013 9:00 am

It is strange how we are never ready for events which are, in principle, certain. The media have prepared for…

Group portrait of the Du Maurier sisters with their dog Brutus by Frederic Whiting (1918). From left to right: Daphne, Jeanne and Angela

'Daphne du Maurier and Her Sisters: The Hidden Lives of Piffy, Bird and Bing', by Jane Dunn - review

9 March 2013 9:00 am

Victoria Glendinning lifts the curtain on the drama of three sisters

'O My America!', by Sara Wheeler - review

9 March 2013 9:00 am

You might not expect Sara Wheeler, the intrepid literary traveller, to be anxious about passing the half-century point. Surely a…

Fanny (left) and Stella —‘the more presentable of the two’

'Fanny and Stella: The Young Men Who Shocked Victorian England', by Neil McKenna - review

9 March 2013 9:00 am

Mick Jagger, the Danny La Rue of rock, impersonates a woman on the cover of the 1978 Stones album Some…


'Diana Vreeland', by Amanda Mackenzie Stuart - review

9 March 2013 9:00 am

Over 80 and almost blind, Diana Vreeland was wheeled around a forthcoming costume exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum, issuing instructions…

Journalist, novelist, patriot, spy

2 March 2013 9:00 am

When I was a new MI5 recruit, working in Leconfield House in 1970, there was a group of middle-aged men…


Hero or villein?

2 June 2012 8:00 pm

‘Not one word’, exclaimed Turgenev of Tolstoy, ‘not one movement of his is natural! He is eternally posing before us!’…


The pen was mightier than the brush

2 June 2012 7:00 pm

Of the making of books about the Pre-Raphaelites, it appears, there is no end. Like the Bloomsberries, most of the…

Going to the fair

28 April 2012 10:00 am

Why would anyone want to buy this dreadful book? The frightful Simon Cowell appears to have co-operated with the author,…


Hero of his own drama

17 March 2012 11:00 am

Sam Leith is enthralled by the larger-than-life genius, August Strindberg — playwright, horticulturalist, painter, alchemist and father of modern literature


Bookends: A life of gay abandon

17 March 2012 9:00 am

Sometimes, only the purest smut will do. Scotty Bowers’s memoir, Full Service: My Adventures in Hollywood and the Secret Sex…


Godfather of rap

28 January 2012 10:00 am

At a funeral in New Orleans in 1901, Joe ‘King’ Oliver played a blues-drenched dirge on the trumpet. This was…


A feast of vanities

28 January 2012 10:00 am

The name of Savonarola slides off the tongue as if concocted for an orator’s climax. But when it came to…


A horrid story of intellectual corruption

14 January 2012 11:00 am

The death of a great author often causes interminable displays of corrosive envy. Heirs, acolytes, interpreters and academics resent one…


Bookends: An unreal world

31 December 2011 9:00 am

Even by Hollywood standards, Carrie Fisher is pretty crazy. She was born a Hollywood princess, and remembers her parents —…

Settling old scores

10 December 2011 10:00 am

As a boy, Brian Sewell was unimpressed by opera but enraptured by pantomime which, he reveals in Outsider, sowed in…

Forthright to a fault

3 December 2011 11:30 am

Her mother was Ellen Terry, the most admired actress of the day. Her brother was Edward Gordon Craig, the celebrated…


Lust for life

3 December 2011 10:00 am

Seduced by the hayseed hair and the Yorkshire accent it’s tempting to see the young David Hockney as the Freddie…