Old School Lockers and Hallway

Sean O’Brien explores a very English form of sadomasochism

27 August 2016 9:00 am

At first glance Sean O’Brien’s new novel appears to focus on England’s devotion to the past. Even its title carries…

La Decalcomania by Rene Magritte (Photo: Getty)

The internal dreamworld of René Magritte

6 August 2016 9:00 am

Surrealism was, at least initially, as much about writing as painting. A plaque on the Hotel des Grands Hommes in…

Put a spell on you: Jamie Parker as Harry in ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’

Platitudes, banalities and plotlines that punch each other in the face: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child reviewed

6 August 2016 9:00 am

Consider it commercially. So powerful is the pull of the Potter franchise that the characters could simply re-enact the plot…

After the breakthrough: Jack Kerouac photographed by John Cohen, 1959

The picture that captures why Jack Kerouac will last forever

23 July 2016 9:00 am

Why Jack Kerouac’s fleeting moment will last for ever

Above and below: From Robin Dalton’s My Relations: ‘My second cousin, Penelope Wood, is an artist, or at least hopes to be one. She is only 16, but she has done some beautiful little paintings. I have one hanging in my room now. It is a landscape and is one she did when only 12 years old’

When mother killed the plumber — and Nellie Melba came round to sing

4 June 2016 9:00 am

Here’s a pair of little books — one even littler than the other — by Robin Dalton (née Eakin), a…


A Christmas parable from the Spectator’s business editor

12 December 2015 9:00 am

  I thought you might enjoy a little parable for Christmas, so here goes… The boardroom clock said twelve minutes…

Ian Rankin (Photo: Getty)

Ian Rankin’s diary: Paris, ignoring Twitter and understanding evil

21 November 2015 9:00 am

After ten days away, I spent last Friday at home alone, catching up on washing, shopping for cat food, answering…

Italian dictator Benito Mussolini (Photo: Getty)

Umberto Eco really tries our patience

7 November 2015 9:00 am

Colonna, the protagonist of Umberto Eco’s latest novel, is the first to admit he is a loser. A middle-aged literary…


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

8 August 2015 9:00 am

Cult novelist Michael Moorcock on fantasy, his father, and the London he loved and lost

French villager Lucile Angellier, played by Michelle Williams, falls for a Nazi soldier

Suite Francaise review: what is this film playing at, when it comes to Jews in attics?

14 March 2015 9:00 am

Suite Française is being billed as a second world war romance about ‘forbidden love’ and, in this regard, it is…


Reading about your school is always a terrible idea

14 March 2015 9:00 am

Writers’ reminiscences terrify Daisy Dunn

Sebastian Faulks Photo: Getty

Sebastian Faulks’s diary: My task for 2015 – get a job

14 February 2015 9:00 am

Just back from Sri Lanka, a place I first went to in 1981. It was then a dreamy island. I…

Will Boast

Life doesn’t care if your misery has a plot – but readers do

24 January 2015 9:00 am

Sometimes writers have to get a memoir out of their system before they can start on their great novel. Will…

Author Adam Thirwell Photo: Ulf Andersen/Getty

Lurid & Cute is too true to its title

24 January 2015 9:00 am

One of the duties of a reviewer is to alert potential readers to the flavour and content of a book,…


A ghost story without the scary bits

24 January 2015 9:00 am

Two men walk into an ice cream parlour in Austin, Texas, order the three teenage girls working there to undress,…


Why you might not want corridors in your historical novel

1 November 2014 9:00 am

I read C.J. Sansom’s novel Dissolution on the train recently with pleasure. For an historical novel narrated in the 1530s,…


L.P. Hartley’s guide to coping with a heatwave

26 July 2014 9:00 am

Those of us who have been struggling to endure the recent heat should turn to L.P. Hartley’s classic coming-of-age novel The…

(Photo: Central Press/Getty Images)

Jacqueline Wilson: 'The first book that made me cry'

12 April 2014 9:00 am

Rumer Godden’s An Episode of Sparrows, first published in 1955, focuses on the roaming children — the ‘sparrows’ — of a shabby street in bomb-torn London. When ten-year-old Lovejoy Mason finds a packet of cornflower seeds and decides to create an ‘Italian’ garden hidden in a rubble-strewn churchyard, the consequences are life-changing for all who become involved. Below is the foreword to a recent reissue of the novel (Virago Modern Classics, £7.99, Spectator Bookshop, £7.49).

Francis King   Photo: Denis Jones/Evening Standard /REX

From frankness to obsession - the novels of Francis King

1 March 2014 9:00 am

Paul Binding reassesses the novels of Francis King, who died last year

Sting, William Burroughs and Andy Summers Photo: Getty

William S. Burroughs was a writer – not a painter, prophet, philosopher

8 February 2014 9:00 am

William S. Burroughs lived his life in the grand transgressive tradition of Lord Byron and Oscar Wilde and, like all…

A wounded soldier is carried through the mud near Boesinghe during the battle of Passchendaele in Flanders Photo: Getty

When No Man's Land is home

25 January 2014 9:00 am

Countless writers and film-makers this year will be trying their hand at forcing us to wake up and smell the…


By the book: The NSA is behaving like a villain in a 1950s novel

18 January 2014 9:00 am

The continuing drip-feed of stories about governments and friendly-seeming internet giants sifting through our data has left some citizens feeling…

Woman in black: Madeleine St John, due for revival. 
‘Her steadiest relationships were with a series of cats’

Breakdowns, suicide attempts — and four great novels

18 January 2014 9:00 am

Among the clever young Australians who came over here in the 1960s to find themselves and make their mark, a…


The many attempts to assassinate Trotsky

4 January 2014 9:00 am

Leon Trotsky’s grandson, Esteban Volkov, is a retired chemist in his early eighties. I met him not long ago in…

Margaret Drabble at the offices of publisher McLelland Stewart Photo: Toronto Star via Getty

Margaret Drabble tries to lose the plot

30 November 2013 9:00 am

Halfway through her new novel, Margaret Drabble tells us of Anna, the pure gold baby of the title, ‘There was…