A Punch caricature of Wilkie Collins, emphasising his sensationalism

Wilkie Collins by Andrew Lycett - review

21 September 2013 9:00 am

In the outrageous 2010 press hounding of the innocent schoolteacher Christopher Jefferies over the murder of his young female tenant…

‘Uncle Bill’ as the troops remembered him

Uncle Bill, by Russell Miller - review

14 September 2013 9:00 am

Given the outcome of recent military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is pertinent to look for one particular quality…

Olivier in one of his most celebrated roles as Shakespeare’s Henry V in the 1944 film

Olivier, by Philip Ziegler - review

7 September 2013 9:00 am

Philip Ziegler is best known for his biographies, often official, of politicians, royalty  and soldiers. They include Harold Wilson, Edward…

J.D. Salinger in 1952, reading from The Catcher in the Rye

Salinger, by David Shields - review

7 September 2013 9:00 am

This biography has somewhat more news value than most literary biographies. Its subject worked hard to ensure that. After 1965,…

Matthew Carr’s portrait of his father, Raymond, as Warden of St Antony’s College, Oxford

Raymond Carr by María Jesús Gonzalez - review

31 August 2013 9:00 am

This is an unusual book: a Spanish historian writes the life of an English historian of Spain. In doing so,…

It's not just about the bike. (Photo: Phil Walter/Getty)

Land of Second Chances, by Tim Lewis - review

27 July 2013 9:00 am

This is a book about Rwanda. It’s a book about cycling. But it’s not, in the end, a book about…

Mysterious and powerful: ‘Event on the Downs’ (1934)

Paul Nash, by Andrew Causey - review

22 June 2013 9:00 am

Andrew Causey opens his book on a slightly defensive note: Paul Nash, he says is often identified as Britain’s outstanding…

Unnerving as Bill Sikes in Carol Reed’s Oliver!

What Fresh Lunacy is This?, by Robert Sellers - review

22 June 2013 9:00 am

Midway through this startling book, Robert Sellers asks himself a question with such apparent seriousness I barked with laughter: ‘Was…


The Outsider, by Jimmy Connors - review

22 June 2013 9:00 am

As a teenager in the 1980s I liked Jimmy Connors. This meant parking my not inconsiderable jealousy that he’d once…


My last chance to follow in Napoleon’s footsteps

15 June 2013 9:00 am

St Helena, the island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean on which Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled and died, is…

Nijinski by Georges Barbier in ‘Le Festin /L’Oiseau d’or’ (1912)

Nijinsky, by Lucy Moore - review

15 June 2013 9:00 am

The first biography of Vaslav Nijinsky, which appeared in 1934, was written by his wife Romola with the help of…

The Frontman, by Harry Browne - review

8 June 2013 9:00 am

According to a story which Harry Browne accepts is surely apocryphal, but which he includes in his book anyway, at…

Portrait of Byron in Greek national dress by Thomas Phillips

Byron’s War, by Roderick Beaton - review

1 June 2013 9:00 am

Although Lord Byron is hailed as a national hero in Greece, his legacy has been largely destructive, says David Crane

They really were in love: Scott, Zelda and their daughter Frances (‘Scottie’) in Paris

Z, by Therese Anne Fowler, Beautiful Fools, by R. Clifton Spargo, Careless People, by Sarah Churchill - review

1 June 2013 9:00 am

The Great Gatsby is one of those great works of literature, like Pride and Prejudice, that appeals as much to…


Everest, by Harriet Tuckey

1 June 2013 9:00 am

This book, as the subtitle explains, makes a bold claim: Griffith Pugh was the ‘unsung hero’ of the 1953 ascent…

Royal Ascot - Day 1

Henry Cecil, by Brough Scott - review

1 June 2013 9:00 am

This is by far the best book on racing I have ever read. It combines a truly extraordinary story —…

Rogues’ gallery: 
Georgiana was ‘a liar, cheat and exploiter of her friends’; her husband, the fifth Duke, was ‘an insensitive and autocratic brute’; while her son was ‘manically self-absorbed’

The Devonshires, by Roy Hattersley - review

4 May 2013 9:00 am

Anne Somerset wonders why Roy Hattersley chose to write a history of a family he so clearly disapproves of

Margaret Thatcher: The Authorized Biography, by Charles Moore, and Not for Turning, by Robin Harris - review

4 May 2013 9:00 am

It is a measure of Lady Thatcher’s standing that her death has been followed not only by the mealy-mouthed compliments…

The Spectator’s Notes

27 April 2013 9:00 am

The first volume of my biography of Margaret Thatcher was published on Tuesday. Since Lady Thatcher had stipulated that the…

The Spectator’s Notes

13 April 2013 9:00 am

It is strange how we are never ready for events which are, in principle, certain. The media have prepared for…

Group portrait of the Du Maurier sisters with their dog Brutus by Frederic Whiting (1918). From left to right: Daphne, Jeanne and Angela

'Daphne du Maurier and Her Sisters: The Hidden Lives of Piffy, Bird and Bing', by Jane Dunn - review

9 March 2013 9:00 am

Victoria Glendinning lifts the curtain on the drama of three sisters

'O My America!', by Sara Wheeler - review

9 March 2013 9:00 am

You might not expect Sara Wheeler, the intrepid literary traveller, to be anxious about passing the half-century point. Surely a…

Fanny (left) and Stella —‘the more presentable of the two’

'Fanny and Stella: The Young Men Who Shocked Victorian England', by Neil McKenna - review

9 March 2013 9:00 am

Mick Jagger, the Danny La Rue of rock, impersonates a woman on the cover of the 1978 Stones album Some…


'Diana Vreeland', by Amanda Mackenzie Stuart - review

9 March 2013 9:00 am

Over 80 and almost blind, Diana Vreeland was wheeled around a forthcoming costume exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum, issuing instructions…

Journalist, novelist, patriot, spy

2 March 2013 9:00 am

When I was a new MI5 recruit, working in Leconfield House in 1970, there was a group of middle-aged men…