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

25 January 2014 9:00 am

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


The Spectator book review that brought down Macmillan's government

18 January 2014 9:00 am

Did Macmillan stitch up his succession – or did Iain Macleod’s famous Spectator piece, 50 years old this week, stitch up Macmillan?


Harry Shearer on bringing out Richard Nixon’s feminine side

18 January 2014 9:00 am

Simpsons star Harry Shearer on what it takes to play the president

Stephen Ward and friends, 1963. Christine Keeler is on the right

William Astor: My father, his swimming pool and the Profumo scandal

11 January 2014 9:00 am

I was ten when the Profumo affair began at my home, Cliveden. Andrew Lloyd Webber has captured some of the story – but not all

Irwin Piper takes his sheep to slaughter

How we lost the seasons

4 January 2014 9:00 am

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

Journey's End, 1939 Photo: Time & Life Pictures/Getty

To see how good Journey's End is, just look at who it's offended

14 December 2013 9:00 am

‘You have no idea,’ wrote the publisher Ralph Hodder-Williams in 1929 to one of his authors, what terrible offence Journey’s…

Left to right: Eleanor Roosevelt, King George VI, Sara Roosevelt (the President’s mother), Queen Elizabeth and FDR at Hyde Park on Hudson

A book that's inspired by a movie (for a change)

30 November 2013 9:00 am

Books become films every day of the week; more rarely does someone feel inspired to write a book after seeing…

Labour Beat

Profumo. Chatterley. The Beatles. 1963 was the year old England died

23 November 2013 9:00 am

If you’re looking for the year when the old England died, this was it

JFK at work at his desk in the Oval Office

The wounded Kennedy – and the people who gave him strength

23 November 2013 9:00 am

Ten years ago, a determined historian transformed our picture of John F. Kennedy. Robert Dallek had finally got his hands…

The London terminus of the North Western Railyway in the 1860s, showing a busy scene in front of the Euston Arch, which was demolished a century later

The men who demolished Victorian Britain

23 November 2013 9:00 am

Anyone with a passing interest in old British buildings must get angry at the horrors inflicted on our town centres…

Top of the happiness scale: Chaucer’s Canterbury Pilgrims (English School, 15th century)

Look! Shakespeare! Wow! George Eliot! Criminy! Jane Austen!

16 November 2013 9:00 am

Among the precursors to this breezy little book are, in form, the likes of The Story of Art, Our Island…

The Menin Gate Memorial at 
Ypres lists 54,389 missing. 
Ware was determined that every individual casualty should be honoured

The Briton whose achievement equals that of the Pharaohs'

16 November 2013 9:00 am

We constantly need to be reminded that the consequence of war is death. In the case of the first world…


Blonde, beautiful — and desperate to survive in Nazi France

16 November 2013 9:00 am

Around 200 Englishwomen lived through the German Occupation of Paris. Nicholas Shakespeare’s aunt Priscilla was one. Men in the street…

Two girls

Why do the British love cryptic crosswords?

16 November 2013 9:00 am

Everyone loves an anniversary and the crossword world — if there is such a thing — has been waiting a…

The Milad Tower in Tehran

A place of paranoia, secrecy, corruption, hypocrisy and guilt

16 November 2013 9:00 am

‘Is he a good writer? Is he pro-regime?’ an Iranian journalist in London once asked me of Hooman Majd. Majd…

Portrait of Modest Musorgsky by Ilya Yefimovich Repin

Why do we pounce on Wagner's anti-Semitism, and ignore that of the Russian composers?

9 November 2013 9:00 am

Philip Hensher on how an impassioned, chaotic group of amateur 19th-century composers created the first distinctively Russian music

A fearless horsewoman: Christabel Russell and her son Geoffrey  with the West Kent hounds at Otford 
for the Christmas meet, 1928

Can virgins have babies?

9 November 2013 9:00 am

Mrs Christabel Russell, the heroine of Bevis Hillier’s sparkling book, was a very modern young woman. She had short blonde…

Joanne Spencer, who sold salad and rabbits from a basket in Portobello, c. 1904

Portobello's market mustn't be allowed to close

9 November 2013 9:00 am

After reading Portobello Voices, I feel more strongly than ever that the unique Portobello market mustn’t be allowed to close.…

Greta Garbo (Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Bill Bryson's 'long extraordinary' summer is too long

9 November 2013 9:00 am

Hands up Spectator readers who can remember the American celebrities Charles Lindbergh, Babe Ruth, Al Capone, Jack Dempsey, Zane Grey,…

The Duke of Wellington 
at the Battle of Salamanca, 
22 July 1812

How we beat Napoleon

2 November 2013 9:00 am

We are accustomed to the thrill and glamour of the grands tableaux, but a nuts-and-bolts study of Napoleonic warfare makes for equally gripping reading, says David Crane

Communal, comforting and calming: tobacco in a war zone has always been important, says Kate Adie

Why Jeremy Paxman's Great War deserves a place on your bookshelf

2 November 2013 9:00 am

The Great War involved the civilian population like no previous conflict. ‘Men, women and children, factory, workshop and army —…

Underneath the arches: Cruikshank’s illustration of ‘one of those afflicting occurences in the life of London: 
TOM, JERRY and LOGIC are arrested in their progress home by the melancholy discovery of Corinthian KATE 
in the last stage of a Consumption, disease & inebriety’

Hogarth and the harlots of Covent Garden were many things, but they weren't 'bohemians'

2 November 2013 9:00 am

It was Hazlitt who said of Hogarth that his pictures ‘breathe a certain close, greasy, tavern air’, and the same…

The ruins of Hamburg after Allied bombing,  July 1943

Hitler didn't start indiscriminate bombings — Churchill did 

26 October 2013 9:00 am

‘I cannot describe to you what a curious note of brutality a bomb has,’ said one woman who lived through…

Prince Albert (Photo: John Jabez Edwin Mayall/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Clash of the titans

26 October 2013 9:00 am

This is an odd book: interesting, informative, intelligent, but still decidedly odd. It is a history of the Victorian era…

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron a

Tristram Hunt's diary: Why has Gove allowed a school that makes women wear the hijab?

19 October 2013 9:00 am

ONE OF THE MINOR sociological treats of being appointed shadow education secretary is a frontbench view of David Cameron’s crimson…