Yes or no, I’ll never feel the same about the Scots

I doubt I’m alone among English readers of this magazine in having felt uncomfortable with our last issue. ‘Please stay…


Countries shape character (so get ready to like Scots less)

Is national character real? If so, how is it formed?

Where are the Betjemans de nos jours?

We need more opinionated English eccentrics making documentaries like, ahem, me...

Is it just me or are almost all TV documentaries completely unwatchable these days? I remember when I first started…

Poet John Clare Photo: Getty

You owe it to yourself to visit John Clare country

This has been a terrible year for horseflies. It’s bad enough if you’re human: often by the time you swat…

Spain v Netherlands: Group B - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil

Dan Snow's diary: Making World Cup history

Could there be a more timely advert for the Better Together campaign than on the field of sport? What the…


Shakespeare invented Britain. Now he can save it

Shakespeare defined our united national culture – and now he can help save it

Mitchell Johnson Photo: Getty

As England's cricketers wobble, the rugby team are finally getting it together

My friend Miles was bowling in a festival of wandering cricket clubs in Oxford the other day. First wicket down…


Hurrah for Andrew Strauss

Andrew Strauss is a serious man and Driving Ambition (Hodder, £20, Spectator Bookshop, £18) is a serious book. It looks…


It’s the summer of the topless man – and there’s nothing we can do to stop it

Topless men. What does that mean, then? I was opposite one on the tube the other day, heading north from…


Defending the real Downton Abbeys

Why Britain’s stately homes are struggling

Muddling through

It so happened that in 1961 I was part of a little group — three of us — which welcomed…


Rotten, vicious times

A.N. Wilson recalls the worst decade of  recent history and the death throes of Old England


The bigger picture

Sam Leith has been enjoying two very different histories of England

England from above

A highbrow vision of our country


Nostalgie de la boue

In the late 1960s I grew up in the London borough of Greenwich, which in those days had a shabby, post-industrial edge.


Liberal England dies again

The Lib Dems’ troubles are a result not only of coalition and foolish promises, but of a resurgence of the old left-right division


Ride on in majesty

Governments in early modern England, having no standing army nor a civil service to speak of, required the consent of the governed.

Oh Brother, where art thou?

Benjamin Franklin had this ambition for his body: that after his death it should be reissued ‘in a new and more beautiful edition, corrected and amended by the author’.


Capturing the last of England

The book is interesting because it has insights and novelty, not least in taking a period and a culture regarded by many as second best compared with what was happening elsewhere at the time, and shows it to have been enlightened, intelligent and full of beauty.


Identity politics

In the past half century, much ingenuity and humdrum effort has gone into redefining Australia as a nation.


Secrets and silences

Charlotte Moore’s family have lived at Hancox on the Sussex Weald for well over a century.


More than a painter of Queens

The last words of Hungarian-born portraitist Philip de László, spoken to his nurse, were apparently, ‘It is a pity, because there is so much still to do.’ As Duff Hart-Davis’s biography amply demonstrates, for de László, art — which he regarded as ‘work’ as much as an aesthetic vocation — was both the purpose and the substance of his life.


The pride of the Sackvilles

Knole is a country house the size of a small village in the Kent countryside.


Not our finest hour

Ever since Edward II’s deposition and grisly murder in the dungeons of Berkeley Castle in 1327, his reign has always been regarded as a particularly embarrassing interlude in English history.


Anything for a quiet life

Jim, Crace’s latest novel, All That Follows, marks a deliberate change from past form.