The early 19th century was the age of the dandy, and the essence of dandyism was cool self-control.
A mysterious head injury left the young Ian Thomson unconscious in his flat in the Via Salaria. But decades later, his affection for Rome remains undiminished
The square jaw and steely gaze are deceptive.
Some of the best writing about sport in recent years has been done by journalists who tend their soil, so to speak, in another parish.
For Peter Ackroyd, the subterranean world holds a potent allure.
Mo Hayder has a considerable and well-deserved reputation as a writer of horrific crime novels that often revolve around the physical violence men do to women.
It may not be quite true that the next best thing to eating good food is reading about it, but undeniably food writing has its considerable pleasures.
What was life like in Hitler’s Germany? This question has long fascinated authors and readers alike, as books like Alone in Berlin, The Boy with the Striped Pyjamas and The Book Thief bear witness.
There are among us a churlish few who consider the term ‘sports personality’ to be an oxymoron.
The sum of hard biographical facts about Captain Cook never increases, nor is it expected to.
The Forgotten Waltz is one of those densely recapitulative novels that seek to interpret emotional crack-up from the angle of its ground-down aftermath.
‘There never was a Churchill, from John of Marlborough down,’ wrote Gladstone, ‘that had either principles or morals.’ With the shining exception of Winston and his brother Jack, Churchill men have tended to be bad hats, but this makes them all the more interesting to read about.
Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia offers two contrasting views on a ‘Capability’ Brown landscape at the imagined Sidley Park.
Towards Mohammed Reza Pahlavi (1919–1980), the last or most recent Shah of Iran, there are two principal attitudes.
British writers who set their first novels in America are apt to come horribly unstuck.
Nicola Shulman begins her rehabilitation of Thomas Wyatt by remarking that there is ‘an almost universal consensus that he can’t write’ — a consensus established within a generation of his death in 1542.
Hugo Vickers has already produced a well-documented and balanced biography of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.
A mad, muscular Sally Bercow cavorts on the Commons chair, diminutive husband on her knee, his features impish.
Draw two two-inch triangles, tip to tip, one on top of the other.
What if Princess Diana hadn’t died, but, aided by her besotted press secretary, had faked her death and fled to America to live under an assumed identity? Is this an interesting question? Is a novelist justified in exploring such a supposition? I believe the answer to both questions is ‘no’.
I declare two interests. I own a dog, Lily, and I admire the New York Review of Books. What could go wrong?
Sam Leith is enthralled by a masterpiece on monotony, but is devastated by its author’s death
In July, the world’s most famous restaurant, elBulli, closes, to reopen in 2014 as a ‘creative centre’. Rough luck on the million-odd people who try for one of 8,000 reservations a year. It’s also a blow for the eponymous young cooks of Lisa Abend’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentices (Simon & Schuster, £18.99), the 45 stagiaires who labour in Ferran Adria’s kitchen for a season in the hope of sharing in the magic. Ferran, you see, is no mere cook. With him, ‘hot turns into cold, sweet into savoury, solid into liquid or air’.
Rocco LaGrassa was ‘stout around the middle . . . wee at the ankles, and girlish at his tiny feet, a man in the shape of a lightbulb’. In Salvatore Scibona’s first novel we join this lightbulb of a man on perhaps his darkest day: the day on which the police arrive at his door to tell him his son has just died of tuberculosis in a prisoner-of-war camp in North Korea.
Henning Mankell bestrides the landscape of Scandavian crime fiction like a despondent colossus.