Thomas W. Hodgkinson rss

Author Harry Mount

Harry’s Homer — a humorous history

25 July 2015
Harry Mount’s Odyssey: Ancient Greece in the Footsteps of Odysseus Harry Mount

Bloomsbury, pp.264, £18.99, ISBN: 9781472904676

It was a certain unforgettable ex-girlfriend, Harry Mount confesses — named only as ‘S’ in his dedication — who came up with the idea for this new book, which he… Read more

Jack O’Connell in ‘Unbroken’ — out next month — one of the few films today with a star writing team, the Coen brothers

How Hollywood is killing the art of screenwriting

29 November 2014

Writing is dead. Long live writing. What do I mean when I say writing is dead? That’s a whole other article, but in brief: cinema killed the novel, email killed… Read more

Neil Young and Billy Idol Photo: Getty

Songs for the road: through his music and his classic car collection Neil Young hopes to escape his childhood traumas

22 November 2014
Special Deluxe Neil Young

Penguin, pp.384, £25, ISBN: 9780241006894

Why do people talk about ‘experimenting’ with drugs when mostly they just mean that they’re doing them? Perhaps, as I write this, I should experiment with a glass of beer.… Read more

Tennessee Williams on the stage set of A Streetcar Named Desire (1947)

Confused, unbalanced, brilliant: the Blanche Dubois of Tennessee Williams biographies

20 September 2014
Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh John Lahr

Bloomsbury, pp.784, £30, ISBN: 9781408843659

Anyone for Tennessee? At a best guess, the answer to that’s yes. There’s scarcely a moment these days when there isn’t a Williams play on somewhere in the West End… Read more

Screenwriter William Goldman Photo: Getty

How dare this author trash one of the great screenwriters of the 20th century?

13 September 2014
William Goldman Sean Egan

BearManor Media, pp.284, £17.20, ISBN: 9781593935832

Should one say ‘vicious circle’ or ‘vicious cycle’? That’s a question that just goes round and round inside my head. In the case of the American novelist and screenwriter William… Read more


A guide to marriage, moving and fatherhood – and also not a bad tool with which to beat your solicitor to death

12 July 2014
How to Be a Husband Tim Dowling

Fourth Estate, pp.304, £12.99, ISBN: 9780007527663

Over the past 12 months, I’ve proposed to my girlfriend, moved house, got married, and become a father. The most stressful of these tests, without a doubt, was moving house.… Read more

Author P.J. O'Rourke Portrait Session at Book Soup

The man who went to Hell and back – for a laugh

The Baby Boom P.J.O’Rourke

Grove Press, pp.288, £16.99, ISBN: 9781011856118

Since the passing of Auberon Waugh, there haven’t been many really successful right-wing comedians. The Mayor of London is one. Another is the American journalist and wit P.J. O’Rourke. The… Read more

Stirring the imagination into overdrive: ‘The Sinner’ by John Collier (1904)

Sex, secrets, and self-mortification: the dark side of the confessional

1 March 2014
The Dark Box: A Secret History of Confession John Cornwell

Profile Books, pp.288, £16.99, ISBN: 9781781251089

I have a confession to make. I really enjoyed this book. It’s been a while since I admitted something of the sort, and I feel ashamed, because, although it’s smartly,… Read more

Hotel Chelsea

Where artists went to drink and die

8 February 2014
Inside the Dream Palace: The Life and Times of New York’s Legendary Chelsea Hotel Sherill Tippins

Simon & Schuster, pp.457, £20, ISBN: 9780743295611

Once below a time (to quote the man himself) the bloated poet Dylan Thomas slouched back to New York’s Chelsea Hotel in the dead of night and informed his mistress… Read more

Hitler In Weimar

Did Hollywood moguls really make a pact with Hitler?

23 November 2013
The Collaboration: Hollywood’s Pact with Hitler Ben Urwand

Belknap Press, pp.327, £19.95, ISBN: 9780674724747

At the recent Austin Film Festival, at every ruminative panel or round-table discussion I attended, I slapped my copy of this book down in front of me. The cover, I… Read more

Bran Castle — but don’t mention Dracula

Transylvania Diary by Thomas W. Hodgkinson - diary

21 September 2013

Ehe-Gefängnis. The word, strictly speaking (which is how one should always speak), means ‘marriage prison’, and refers to an austere cell maintained in some of the magnificent fortified Saxon churches… Read more

A 14th-century French edition of Galen illlustrates the proper bedside manner

The Prince of medicine, by Susan P. Mattern - review

14 September 2013
The Prince of Medicine: Galen in the Roman Empire Susan P. Mattern

OUP, pp.334, £20, ISBN: 9780199605453

In the first draft of the screenplay for the film Gladiator, the character to be played by Russell Crowe (‘father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife’, etc)… Read more

Paul Bowles

Tangier, by Josh Shoemake - review

24 August 2013
Tangier: A Literary Guide for Travellers Josh Shoemake

I.B. Tauris, pp.299, £16.99, ISBN: 9781780762760

This may sound a little orientalist, but Tangier has some claim to being the most foreign city in the world. Back in the day, its position at the northernmost tip… Read more

Island, by J. Edward Chamberlin - review

10 August 2013
Island: How Islands Transform the World J. Edward Chamberlin

Elliott & Thompson, pp.241, £14.99, ISBN: 9781909653382

‘Tom Island’ — that was the name I was given once by a girl I met on an island in the Tyrrhenian Sea. Of course, she broke my heart in… Read more

The Emperor Elagabalus delighted in watching his dinner guests slide to the floor as the evening progressed

Confronting the Classics, by Mary Beard - review

23 March 2013
Confronting the Classics Mary Beard

Profile Books, pp.310, £25, ISBN: 9781781250488

The Emperor Augustus, ruler of the known world, once spotted a man in the street who looked a bit like himself. ‘Did your mother ever work at the palace?’ he… Read more


Pyrrhic victories

16 February 2013
The Rise of Rome: The Making of the World’s Greatest Empire Anthony Everitt

Head of Zeus,, pp.478, £20, ISBN: 9781781851036

In 193 BC, Scipio met Hannibal at Ephesus, and asked him who, in his opinion, were the greatest generals of all time. Since he’d personally defeated Rome’s most dangerous enemy a… Read more

Alexie: ‘If you want a woman to love you, you have to dance’

Indian giver

9 February 2013
Blasphemy Sherman Alexie

Grove Press, pp.480, £16.99, ISBN: 9780802120397

A 465-page volume of short stories by a Native American author — it’s not, perhaps, the kind of thing everyone would automatically reach for, if they hadn’t already heard about… Read more

Understated elegance

19 January 2013
Sorry! The English and their Manners Henry Hitchings

John Murray, pp.392, £19.99, ISBN: 9781848546646

A man raised by apes is discovered in Africa, recognised as an English lord, and escorted home. At a formal dinner, he raises a bowl of soup to his lips… Read more

The only truly great Redgrave: Vanessa in 1966

The gulf of greatness

1 December 2012
The Redgraves: A Family Epic Donald Spoto

The Robson Press, pp.361, £25, ISBN: 9781849543941

Ladies and gentlemen,’ Laurence Olivier declared in his clipped, semi-metallic tones to the audience at the Vic as he took his curtain call, ‘tonight a great actress has been born.… Read more

L. Ron Hubbard

Going overboard

24 November 2012

What is it about islands that appeals to little men with big ideas? It’s Corfu I’m thinking about, primarily. Napoleon was obsessed with the place. Kaiser Wilhelm owned a summer… Read more

Taylor and Burton on the set of ‘The VIPs’ in 1963

Man of many parts

13 October 2012
The Richard Burton Diaries Chris Williams (editor)

Yale, pp.704, £25, ISBN: 9780300180107

My father, a man not given to hero-worship, once told me that the only actor he really admired was Richard Burton. Some years later, I put the question to Peter… Read more

Orson Welles, ‘the interminable prodigy, who left his promise, though not his waistline, unfulfilled’

The stuff of dreams

6 October 2012
The Big Screen: The Story of the Movies and What they Did to Us David Thomson

Allen Lane, pp.578, £25, ISBN: 9781846143144

‘As I was writing this book and trying to discover what it was about .…’ With his very first words, David Thomson pulls out the carpet from under himself, drapes… Read more


Sweetest songs of saddest thoughts

29 September 2012
Once Upon a Time: The Lives of Bob Dylan Ian Bell

Mainstream, pp.590, £20, ISBN: 9781780575735

In February 1966, in the first flush of his fame, an interviewer asked Bob Dylan what his songs were about. ‘Oh, some are about four minutes,’ he responded. ‘Some are… Read more


Models of impropriety

1 September 2012
Wives and Stunners Henrietta Garnett

Macmillan, pp.315, £20, ISBN: 9780230709409

Once upon a time, there was an art scholar called John. He spent his days admiring marble statues, his nights in praying that he might be allowed a real-life statue… Read more

Not grinning but scowling

30 June 2012
Gold Chris Cleeve

Sceptre, pp.366, 16.99, ISBN: 9780340963432

I am deeply envious of Chris Cleeve, so maybe everything that follows should be taken with a pinch of salt. This is a guy whose first novel won the Somerset… Read more