Peter Levi Photo: Getty

Peter Levi – poet, priest and life-enhancer

30 August 2014 9:00 am

Hilaire Belloc was once being discussed on some television programme. One of the panellists was Peter Levi. The other critics…


The biography that makes Philip Larkin human again

23 August 2014 9:00 am

We needn’t apologise for Philip Larkin any longer, says Peter J. Conradi. His place is unmistakeably among the greats

W.B. Yeats and T.S. Eliot Photo: Getty

Sorbet with Rimbaud

23 August 2014 9:00 am

The Bloomsbury of the title refers to the place, not the group. The group didn’t have a poet. ‘I would…

Poet John Clare Photo: Getty

You owe it to yourself to visit John Clare country

2 August 2014 9:00 am

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

‘A Sounding Line’ (2006–7). Detail of de Waal’s 66 porcelain vessels in white and celadon glazes, Chatsworth House, Derbyshire

How good an artist is Edmund de Waal?

26 July 2014 9:00 am

For Edmund de Waal a ceramic pot has a ‘real life’ that goes beyond functionalism.This handsome book (designed by Atelier…

Portrait of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, with his pet monkey, attributed to Jacob Huysmans

Thug, rapist, poetic visionary: the contradictory Earl of Rochester

28 June 2014 9:00 am

Philip Hensher on the scandalous 17th-century courtier whose hellfire reputation has overshadowed his fine satirical poetry

John Burnside Photo: Getty

My desert island poet

31 May 2014 9:00 am

If I had to be marooned on a desert island with a stranger, that stranger would be John Burnside. Not…

Very bad poems on the Underground

8 March 2014 9:00 am

My husband was surprised by quite a bit when we travelled by Underground in London the other day. Although he…

A learned poet's mystifying mistakes

15 February 2014 9:00 am

I enjoy Poetry Please, but was shouting mildly at the wireless the other day when a northern woman poet was…

Portrait of Vernon Scannell by Charlotte Harris, who ‘tried to catch his half smile, and the sadness and humour in his eyes’

Deserter, wifebeater, great poet: the shame and glory of Vernon Scannell

14 December 2013 9:00 am

Vernon Scannell was a thief, a liar, a deserter, a bigamist, a fraud, an alcoholic, a woman-beater and a coward.…

W H Auden (Photo: H V Drees/Getty Images)

What would Auden have deemed evil in our time? European jingoism

9 November 2013 9:00 am

‘Goodbye to the Mezzogiorno’ was the first Auden poem that Alexander McCall Smith read in his youth. He discovered it…


Jonathan Aitken's diary: My life as a Christian outreach speaker

26 October 2013 9:00 am

The last time I wrote for The Spectator I was sitting in a prison cell. I sent the then editor…

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

A Strong Song Tows Us, by Richard Burton - review

12 October 2013 9:00 am

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

Dot Wordsworth's week in words: Did William Empson have the first clue what 'bare ruined choirs' meant?

5 October 2013 9:00 am

I am shocked to find that William Empson, famous for his technique of close reading, was no good at reading…

Mary Evans picture library

Music at Midnight, by John Drury - review

28 September 2013 9:00 am

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

Six Bad Poets, by Christopher Reid - review

28 September 2013 9:00 am

Is poetry in good enough health to be made fun of in this way? The irony is that this long,…

Seamus Heaney, Recipient of 1995 Nobel Prize for Literature, In Bologna

Seamus Heaney's poems are for Protestants too

7 September 2013 9:00 am

Seamus Heaney’s poetry from the other side of Northern Ireland’s divide


The views that inspire writers

31 August 2013 9:00 am

Do writers really need inspiring landscapes? Or the opposite?

Mind your language: The springs before the Arab Spring

3 August 2013 9:00 am

Two hundred and forty-years ago next Tuesday, Thomas Gray was buried in his mother’s grave in Stoke Poges churchyard. In…

The Professor of Poetry, by Grace McCleen - review

29 June 2013 9:00 am

Elizabeth Stone, English professor at UCL,  has long lived on ‘paper and words and thin air’. Single, friendless, dessicated, respected,…


Complete Poems, by C.P. Cavafy - review

18 May 2013 9:00 am

Constantine Cavafy was a poet who fascinated English novelists, and remained a presence in English fiction long after his death…


Holloway, by Robert Macfarlane - review

11 May 2013 9:00 am

This is a very short book recording two visits to the hills around Chideock in Dorset.In the first Robert Macfarlane…

Of vice and verse

2 March 2013 9:00 am

‘All human life is binary’, explains a Vestal Virgin to the time-travelling heroine of Ranjit Bolt’s verse novel, Losing It.…


Old Man of Corfu

2 June 2012 10:00 am

Happy 200th birthday, Mr Lear


26 May 2012 3:00 pm

This month has been the launching season for my new collection of poems, Nefertiti in the Flak Tower. Not many…