A scene from Robert Lepage’s autobiographical ‘887’, a madeleine of a show

‘People are interested in what I’m doing again’: Robert Lepage interviewed

22 August 2015

There’s a scene in 887, Robert Lepage’s latest show, which opened at the Edinburgh International Festival last week, in which the French-Canadian director stands alone in his kitchen, lit up… Read more


‘I was facing truths I didn’t particularly want to look at’: Michael Moorcock interview

8 August 2015

By the kind of uncanny coincidence that would tickle his psychogeographically minded friends Iain Sinclair and Peter Ackroyd, Michael Moorcock’s publishers have recently moved offices to the same corner of… Read more

Ecclestone and Mosley at Brands Hatch in 1978 — a double-act worthy of Ealing Studios

The fast, furious life of Max Mosley

4 July 2015
Formula One and Beyond: The Autobiography Max Mosley

Simon & Schuster, pp.481, £25, ISBN: 9781471150197

Max Mosley’s autobiography has been much anticipated: by the motor racing world, by the writers and readers of tabloid newspapers, by social historians, and by lawyers, whom one imagines perusing… Read more

Poet Wendy Cope Photo: Getty

Wendy Cope on hating school, meeting Billy Graham and enduring Freudian analysis

15 November 2014
Life, Love and the Archers: Recollections, Reviews and Other Prose Wendy Cope

Two Roads, pp.300, £16.99, ISBN: 9781444795363

A surprise! I took this book from its envelope expecting a fresh collection of Wendy Cope’s poems, and opened it to find prose — a variety of memoirs, reflections, articles… Read more

English novelist Margaret Forster, 1964 Photo: Getty

A woman who wears her homes like garments

18 October 2014
My Life in Houses Margaret Forster

Chatto, pp.272, £14.99, ISBN: 9780701189105

Depending on your approach, home is where your heart is, where you hang your hat, or possibly where you hang yourself. Our homes reflect our characters, social milieux and finances,… Read more


The author’s father didn’t want you to read this book. It’s hard to understand why

19 July 2014
A Dog’s Life Michael Holroyd

MacLehose Press, pp.237, £12.99, ISBN: 9781848665224

There were several times when reading A Dog’s Life that I felt as if I’d fallen into a time warp. It starts with a quote on the cover from Hugh… Read more

Portrait of George Eliot, aged 30, by François d’Albert-Durade, whose family she lived with while in Switzerland

Middlemarch: the novel that reads you

15 March 2014
The Road to Middlemarch: My Life with George Eliot Rebecca Mead

Granta, pp.293, £16.99, ISBN: 9781847085153

The genesis of The Road to Middlemarch was a fine article in the New Yorker about  Rebecca Mead’s unsuccessful search for the origin of the remark, sometimes attributed to George… Read more


Secrets of Candleford: the real Flora Thompson

1 March 2014
Dreams of the Good Life Richard Mabey

Allen Lane, pp.208, £16.99, ISBN: 9781846142789

When Richard Mabey was researching this biography of Flora Thompson, author of Lark Rise to Candleford, he happened to stay at a farmhouse B&B near Bath. Ambling around, he found… Read more

Lance Sieveking (right) with Colonel G.L. Thompson broadcasting a running commentary on the final bumping race from a tree in Rectory Meadow, Cambridge, June 1927

'One warm night in June 1917 I became the man who nearly killed the Kaiser'

1 March 2014
Airborne: Scenes from the Life of Lance Sieveking Paul Sieveking (ed., annotations)

Strange Attractor Press, pp.375, £25, ISBN: 97810907222269

The traditional story told about the first world war is that it changed everything: that it was the end of the old world and the beginning of the modern age,… Read more

The 18-year-old Anjelica Huston, directed by her father, 
makes her screen début in A Walk with Love and Death as the 
14th-century French aristocrat Claudia, fleeing the savagery of the Jacquerie

Finally, a celebrity memoir worth reading

4 January 2014
A Story Lately Told: Coming of Age in Ireland, London and New York Anjelica Huston

Simon & Schuster, pp.254, £16.99, ISBN: 9780857207425

Unlike many celebrity memoirs, Anjelica Huston’s is worth reading. In her Prologue she writes that as a child she modeled herself on Morticia Addams, and where a lesser celebrity memoirist… Read more


The vengeance of Alex Ferguson

23 November 2013
My Autobiography Alex Ferguson

Hodder & Stoughton, pp.402, £25, ISBN: 9780340919392

For a quarter of a century Sir Alex Ferguson bestrode football’s narrow world like a colossus. Like his predecessor knight-manager, Sir Matt Busby, he ensured that it was England’s third… Read more

(Picture: Karl Walter/Getty)

Morrissey can't even moan properly — here's a frontman who can

9 November 2013

There is much to be said for Schadenfreude. (If it was edible, it would be a meal in a very expensive restaurant, for which someone else was paying.) So it’s… Read more


My dear old thing! Forget the nasty bits

26 October 2013
Squeezing the Orange Henry Blofeld

Blue Door, pp.368, £20, ISBN: 9780007506392

There can be a strong strain of self-parody in even the greatest commentators. When Henry Blofeld describes the progress of a pigeon in his inimitably plummy tones, or greets a… Read more


Malala's voice is defiant — but how much can she change Pakistan? 

26 October 2013
I Am Malala Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb

Weidenfeld, pp.288, £18.99, ISBN: 9780297870913

In 2012 a Taleban gunman, infuriated by Malala Yousafzai’s frequent television appearances insisting that girls had a right to education, shot her in the face. She survived and is now… Read more

Derek Jacobi in the title role of Becket at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket, 1991

As Luck Would Have It, by Derek Jacobi - review

28 September 2013
As Luck Would Have It Derek Jacobi as told to Garry O’Connor

HarperCollins, pp.320, £20, ISBN: 9780007458875

Alan Bennett once overheard an old lady say, ‘I think a knighthood was wasted on Derek Jacobi,’ and I know what she means. It’s strange how he has always been… Read more

An Appetite for Wonder, by Richard Dawkins - review

21 September 2013
An Appetite for Wonder: The Making of a Scientist Richard Dawkins

Bantam, pp.320, £20, ISBN: 9780593070895

It is peculiarly apt that the author of this autobiography should be the man who coined that now fashionable term ‘meme’ — so long as it is written ‘me me’.… Read more

There and Then: Personal Terms 6, by Frederic Raphael - review

31 August 2013
There and Then: Personal Terms 6 Frederic Raphael

Carcanet, pp.201, £18.95, ISBN: 9781847771407

Frederic Raphael is forensic in his description of the failures of successful people. He is enviously superior and he is partial to the clever oxymoron: ‘predatory caution’, ‘reticent curiosity’, ‘intimidating… Read more

As Green as Grass, by Emma Smith - review

17 August 2013
As Green as Grass: Growing Up Before, During and After the Second World War Emma Smith

Bloomsbury, pp.214, £16.99, ISBN: 9781408833616

The title, the subtitle, the author’s plain name, even the jacket’s photograph of a laughing old lady in sunglasses: none of these is particularly enticing. But the book itself is… Read more


Country Boy, by Richard Hillyer - review

10 August 2013
Country Boy Richard Hillyer

Slightly Foxed Editions, pp.255, £16, ISBN: 9781906562519

Under his real name, Charles James Stranks, the author of this little masterpiece wrote on a number of ecclesiastical subjects: the Venerable Bede, Jeremy Taylor, Durham cathedral, where he was… Read more

Out of its time: Mick Jagger in Nicolas Roeg’s debut film, Performance (1970)

The World is Ever Changing, by Nicolas Roeg - a review

20 July 2013
The World is Ever Changing Nicolas Roeg

Faber and Faber, pp.256, £25, ISBN: 9780571310838

‘Value and worth in any of the arts has always been about timing,’ writes British director Nicolas Roeg at the age of 84. Few directors understand this better — this… Read more

Backing Into the Light, by Colin Spencer - review

22 June 2013
Backing into Light: My Father’s Son Colin Spencer

Quartet, pp.251, £25, ISBN: 9780704372962

Colin Spencer first came to my notice in the Swinging Sixties when a fellow undergraduate alerted me to his larky romp Poppy, Mandragora and the New Sex, the first novel… Read more

Strictly Ann, by Ann Widdecombe - review

8 June 2013
Strictly Ann Ann Widdecombe

Weidenfeld, pp.452, £20, ISBN: 9780297866435

An oddball. And proud to be one. Ann Widdecombe has sailed through life with the same brisk, no-nonsense style that she brings to this highly readable memoir. She attended a… Read more

‘The Nicky of today has become a high-concept gardener’

Folly de Grandeur, by Nicky Haslam- review

18 May 2013
Folly de Grandeur: Romance and Revival in an English Country House Nicky Haslam

Jacqui Small, pp.224, £40, ISBN: 9781906417857

Nicky Haslam is one of our best interior designers, a charmed and charming agent of style, a tastemaker for the sometimes directionless rich, a brighter star than most of his… Read more


Bookends: Spirit of place

5 November 2011

A new book by Ronald Blythe is something of an event. In recent years the bard of Akenfield has mostly published collections of articles, which makes At the Yeoman’s House… Read more

Low life and high style

13 August 2011
Raised on Skiffle Roy Kerridge

Custom Books, pp.179, £10

In 1977, Roy Kerridge was a lavatory cleaner; in 1979 he was a well-known contributor to The Spectator. Yet this was no rags-to-riches discovery of a literary talent. Apart from… Read more