Hero or villein?

2 June 2012 8:00 pm

‘Not one word’, exclaimed Turgenev of Tolstoy, ‘not one movement of his is natural! He is eternally posing before us!’…


The pen was mightier than the brush

2 June 2012 7:00 pm

Of the making of books about the Pre-Raphaelites, it appears, there is no end. Like the Bloomsberries, most of the…

Going to the fair

28 April 2012 10:00 am

Why would anyone want to buy this dreadful book? The frightful Simon Cowell appears to have co-operated with the author,…


Hero of his own drama

17 March 2012 11:00 am

Sam Leith is enthralled by the larger-than-life genius, August Strindberg — playwright, horticulturalist, painter, alchemist and father of modern literature


Bookends: A life of gay abandon

17 March 2012 9:00 am

Sometimes, only the purest smut will do. Scotty Bowers’s memoir, Full Service: My Adventures in Hollywood and the Secret Sex…


Godfather of rap

28 January 2012 10:00 am

At a funeral in New Orleans in 1901, Joe ‘King’ Oliver played a blues-drenched dirge on the trumpet. This was…


A feast of vanities

28 January 2012 10:00 am

The name of Savonarola slides off the tongue as if concocted for an orator’s climax. But when it came to…


A horrid story of intellectual corruption

14 January 2012 11:00 am

The death of a great author often causes interminable displays of corrosive envy. Heirs, acolytes, interpreters and academics resent one…


Bookends: An unreal world

31 December 2011 9:00 am

Even by Hollywood standards, Carrie Fisher is pretty crazy. She was born a Hollywood princess, and remembers her parents —…

Settling old scores

10 December 2011 10:00 am

As a boy, Brian Sewell was unimpressed by opera but enraptured by pantomime which, he reveals in Outsider, sowed in…

Forthright to a fault

3 December 2011 11:30 am

Her mother was Ellen Terry, the most admired actress of the day. Her brother was Edward Gordon Craig, the celebrated…


Lust for life

3 December 2011 10:00 am

Seduced by the hayseed hair and the Yorkshire accent it’s tempting to see the young David Hockney as the Freddie…

A man who quite liked women

19 November 2011 10:00 am

It is noticeable that the kind of young woman that a clever public man most likes talking to is intelligent…


Martin Amis: The Biography by Richard Bradford

5 November 2011 10:00 am

Sam Leith is disappointed that our most famous living novelist remains an enigma

Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography by Walter Isaacson

5 November 2011 10:00 am

America has always idolised its entrepreneurs, even when it has proved a thankless task — if you can glamorise Bill…

Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness by Alexandra Fuller

5 November 2011 10:00 am

There is always a special risk, says Alexandra Fuller, when putting real-life people into books. Not all those who recognised…

Low Life: One Middle-Aged Man in Search of the Point by Jeremy Clarke

29 October 2011 11:00 am

Some may question whether a review of a columnist’s work in the magazine in which that columnist’s work appears can…

Pakistan: A Personal History by Imran Khan

29 October 2011 10:00 am

Imran Khan’s Pakistan: A Personal History describes his journey from playboy cricketer through believer and charity worker to politician. His…


Georgette Heyer: Biography of a Bestseller by Jennifer Kloester

29 October 2011 10:00 am

Those of us who have spent an embarrassing number of hours immersed in the Regency novels of Georgette Heyer have…

What is it about Stieg Larsson?

13 August 2011 12:00 am

How an unsuccessful Swedish journalist became a world-conquering thriller-writer

The short life of Tara Browne

13 August 2011 12:00 am

Remembering a man of the Sixties

Lucky miss

9 July 2011 12:00 am

In Dreams From My Father, his exploration of race and roots, Barack Obama recalled the tales heard in childhood about the man who gave him his name.


The gay Lambeth way

9 July 2011 12:00 am

Archbishop Edward Benson was the ideal of a Victorian churchman.

The biography of a nobody

2 July 2011 12:00 am

A biography of Ed Miliband has to try hard not to be the sort of thing one buys as a present for someone one avidly dislikes.

A far cry from Dr Finlay

2 July 2011 12:00 am

If he is remembered at all, A.J. Cronin is known now for Dr Finlay’s Casebook, which ran for many years on both BBC television and radio, and today resonates with the glow of a gentler past — when a GP happily made house calls, delivered babies, and served as shaman, shrink and confessor to his rural community.