Christopher Howse

St Catherine’s Monastery, Sinai

Breaking the commandments on Moses’s mountain

28 May 2016 9:00 am

A medieval party of 800 Armenians at the top of Mount Sinai suddenly found themselves surrounded by fire. Their pilgrim…

St James by the Master of Mambrillas (early 16th century)

A pilgrim’s progress to Santiago

16 April 2016 9:00 am

In his friendly and beguiling voice, Jean-Christophe Rufin explains (in a way that reminded me of the pre-journey relish of…

The sacrifice of Iphigenia: Agamemnon’s crime was ‘impious’, according to Lucretius

What did the ancient Greeks believe?

27 February 2016 9:00 am

It is a curious fact that the modern Hebrew for ‘atheist’, Tim Whitmarsh notes in passing, is apikoros. The word…

‘If ever there was a Renaissance Man, John Dee was it’: from ‘The Order of the Inspirati’, 1659

John Dee thought he could talk to angels using medieval computer technology

16 January 2016 9:00 am

John Dee liked to talk to spirits but he was no loony witch, says Christopher Howse

From ‘Scenes from the Life of St Augustine’ 
by Benozzo Gozzoli

Take up and read Augustine’s Confessions

2 January 2016 9:00 am

I usually throw away dust jackets but Robin Lane Fox chose his for a reason. He originally encountered Augustine of…

Which happy breed?

Christmas Quiz

12 December 2015 9:00 am

Set by Christopher Howse. Illustrated by Castro


The answers

12 December 2015 9:00 am

On the record 1. Jean-Claude Juncker 2. David Cameron 3. Sir Tim Hunt 4. Jeremy Corbyn 5. President Vladimir Putin…

Photograph by Charles Sturge

Remembering P.J. Kavanagh

19 September 2015 8:00 am


St George as depicted in The Golden Legend

St George: patron saint of England, patronised by all

25 April 2015 9:00 am

What did St George do? Killed a dragon, as everyone knows. And yet, as Samantha Riches points out, no mention…

The two billionth view

Christmas Quiz

13 December 2014 9:00 am

Set by Christopher Howse.

Illustrated by Castro

Even Cilla’s biographer admits that critics were justified in knocking the ‘prurience ‘of Blind Date

Five of the best celebrity biographies of 2014

6 December 2014 9:00 am

Cilla Black has become a strange creature during her 50 years in showbiz. When her husband Bobby was in hospital…

The jilted bride

Charles Saatchi’s new book of photos makes me feel sick

13 September 2014 9:00 am

Charles Saatchi, the gallery owner, has created his own Chamber of Horrors in this thick, square book, ‘inspired by striking…

‘Flying Rock’

Floating bodies, seeing hands, rippling skies - is Jerry Uelsmann’s photomontage a tragic dead-end?

30 August 2014 9:00 am

An untitled photograph by Jerry Uelsmann from 1991 shows a rock like Magritte’s floating in the sky between an Ansel…

What! Has John Sutherland really not read Don Quixote from cover to cover?

Judge a critic by the quality of his mistakes

10 May 2014 9:00 am

What the title promises is not found inside. It is a tease. John Sutherland says he has ‘been paid one…

A street in Madrid: there is something more interesting behind the sunny façade…

The right way to see Madrid

29 March 2014 9:00 am

I got Madrid utterly wrong for quite a long time. It’s a lovely city to walk in, and I thought…


The Spectator's Christmas Quiz

14 December 2013 9:00 am

Set by Christopher Howse


The Christmas Quiz answers

14 December 2013 9:00 am

Says who? 1. David Cameron. 2. The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Justin Welby. 3. Nick Clegg. 4. Prince…

P G Wodehouse writing at his home in Paris, 1945 Photo: Getty

What's notable about 'a lovely little old rectangular green French silver whittling knife'? 

30 November 2013 9:00 am

In the reminiscences of Bertie Wooster we find this: As I sat in the bathtub, soaping a meditative foot and…

‘For most of us, ballet is simply a bore’, says Charles Saatchi — 
except when photographed by Tatiana Mikhina

Charles Saatchi's photo play

23 November 2013 9:00 am

The game that Charles Saatchi plays in The Naked Eye is to find photographs of subjects that look surprisingly like…

E.E. Cummings, ‘looking like a plainsman fresh out of the barbers after delivering 300 head of Texas longhorns’

How much can you tell about E.E. Cummings from this photo?

9 November 2013 9:00 am

Do you think you can tell things about writers from the way they look in a painting or photograph? A…

Charing Cross Road, 1951

Notes on…London’s secondhand bookshops

8 June 2013 9:00 am

After seeing the Dalai Lama receive an award at St Paul’s Cathedral, I thought I’d look in at some secondhand…

The Cleansing of Naaman by Elisha. Woodcut from the Biblia Sacra Germanaica

The Serpent’s Promise, by Steve Jones - review

11 May 2013 9:00 am

The weight of bacteria that each of us carries around is equal to that of our brain, a kilogram of…

‘Ware’s Victorian Dictionary of Slang and Phrase', by J. Redding Ware - review

9 March 2013 9:00 am

James Redding Ware, with his idiosyncratic treatment of slang, plunges the reader straight into the late 19th-century Bartholomew Fair of…


Christmas Quiz

15 December 2012 9:00 am

It’s time for the immemorial Christmas custom in which the family gathers round the iPad, cracks another walnut, and sharpens…

The answers

15 December 2012 9:00 am

Weird world1 Mark Rothko’s2 George Washington3 Nadine Dorries4 The Duchess of Cornwall5 Sakhalin6 The 158th Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race7…