History

30 May 2015

Steam privatisation Cunard celebrated its 175th birthday by sailing three liners down the Mersey. The formation of the Cunard Line was an early triumph of privatisation. — The Post Office… Read more

Anita Dobson as Queen Elizabeth I in ‘Armada: 12 Days to Save England’

BBC2's Armada has something for everybody - including three yummy female historians

30 May 2015

It has been a while since the BBC really pushed the boat out on the epic history documentary front. Perhaps to make amends it is treating us to possibly the… Read more

16 May 2015

Scotland’s silent majority Sir: Hugo Rifkind’s article (‘Scotland’s nasty party’, 9 May) is a first for the media. It expresses the dismay, disbelief and incomprehension felt at the rise of… Read more

Labour Wanted

Despair after VE day… the men left behind by victory

16 May 2015

After all the carousing and flag-waving that followed VE day in 1945, millions of young men fortunate enough not to be still fighting the Japanese faced a problem. Having spent… Read more

2. WK Bombenangriffe, Ausgebombte in Hamburg

The carpet-bombing of Hamburg killed 40,000 people. It also did good

9 May 2015

In the early hours of 25 July 1943, nearly 800 RAF Halifaxes and Lancasters launched a 50-minute bombing raid on the Third Reich’s second largest city, Hamburg. The pilots used… Read more

Hitler with the Goebbels family in the late 1930s

Ménage-à-trois with Hitler: the Goebbels’ marriage was a bit crowded

9 May 2015
Goebbels Peter Longerich

Bodley Head, pp.964, £30, ISBN: 97818407920317

It is ironic that this weighty biography of Hitler’s evil genius of a propaganda minister is published on the day of a general election filled with Joseph Goebbels’s hallmarks: mendacity,… Read more

(Photo: Oli Scarff/Getty)

This election has made me understand how it felt to be a lefty under Thatcher

2 May 2015

On the weekend of 25 April 2015 I started to believe that the party I supported might not win an impending general election. I’m used to that. But I started… Read more

25 April 2015

Enemies within Sir: I thought Matthew Parris was typically incisive in his last column, but perhaps not quite as much as the person who wrote its online headline, ‘Scotland knows… Read more

caf

A 1992 election-day lunch with the young David Cameron

25 April 2015

I can claim a milligram of credit for David Cameron’s first star billing. In early 1991, standing in for the late John Junor on the Mail on Sunday and seeking… Read more

A portrait of Raymond Carr as Warden of St Antony’s College, Oxford, by his son Matthew

An education to know: remembering Raymond Carr

25 April 2015

I first heard of Raymond Carr, who wrote for this magazine for more than 40 years, when I was in Italy in the army at the end of the second… Read more

Mary Shelley by Richard Rothwell

There’s something about Mary (Wollstonecraft and Shelley)

25 April 2015
Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley Charlotte Gordon

Hutchinson, pp.649, £25, ISBN: 9780091958947

If Mary Wollstonecraft, as she once declared, ‘was not born to tred in the beaten track’, the same with even greater reason could be said of her daughter Mary Shelley.… Read more

Following Galileo’s discoveries, a rugged, cratered moon is depicted (with papal approval) by Ludovico Cigoli in his ‘Assumption of the Virgin in the Pauline Chapel’

Moving heaven and earth: Galileo’s subversive spyglass

11 April 2015
Galileo’s Telescope: A European Story Massimo Bucciantini, Michele Camerota and Franco Giudice, translated by Catherine Bolton

Harvard University Press, pp.352, £24.95, ISBN: 9780674736917

We live in an age of astronomical marvels. Last year Europe’s Rosetta spacecraft made a daring rendezvous with the comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko, revealing a bizarre double-lobed mountain of ice and rock… Read more

Ernest Bevin Photo: Getty

The triumph of Guatemalan rum (and a disaster for a Guatemalan ambassador)

11 April 2015

For many years, the Central American republic of Guatemala had a grievance against the United Kingdom. It claimed sovereignty over British Honduras, then a colony of ours. Eventually, all that… Read more

Unity Mitford

‘You are always close to me’: Unity Mitford’s souvenirs of Hitler

28 March 2015

The English aristocracy has had its fair share of misfits, and one of the most far-fetched was Unity Mitford. No novelist would dare invent the story of a young woman… Read more

Although Keynes hated his appearance, he was much painted by the Bloomsbury Group, including by Roger Fry (above)

John Maynard Keyes: an abundance of talent that has aroused jealousy and suspicion ever since

28 March 2015
Universal Man: The Seven Lives of John Maynard Keynes Richard Davenport-Hines

Collins, pp.432, £18.99, ISBN: 9780007519804

To the 21st-century right, especially in the United States, John Maynard Keynes has become a much-hated figure whose name is synonymous with bogus spending on public works, insouciance in the… Read more

(Photo: Getty)

The lost words of John Aubrey, from apricate to scobberlotcher

21 March 2015

Hilary Spurling found a certain blunting of the irregularities of John Aubrey’s language in Ruth Scurr’s vicarious autobiography of the amiable man (Books, 14 March). It is true that his… Read more

14 March 2015

Deadly to dogs An Irish setter was allegedly poisoned at Crufts, using beef containing slug pellets. Some other substances with which dog-show rivals could poison your pooch: — Chocolate contains theobromine, a stimulant… Read more

Self confessed mass murderer Anders Breivik Photo: Getty

Anders Breivik: a moronic knight is called to arms

14 March 2015
One of Us: The Story of Anders Breivik and the Massacre in Norway Åsne Seierstad (translated by Sarah Death)

Virago, pp.528, £16.99, ISBN: 9781844089192

In 2011, Anders Breivik murdered 69 teenagers in a socialist summer camp outside the Norwegian capital of Oslo, and eight adults with a bomb attack. His hatred was directed at… Read more

books

John Aubrey and his circle: those magnificent men and their flying machines

14 March 2015
John Aubrey: My Own Life Ruth Scurr

Chatto, pp.518, £25, ISBN: 9780701179076

John Aubrey investigated everything from the workings of the brain, the causation of winds and the origins of Stonehenge to how to cure the fungal infection thrush by jamming a… Read more

How long is it since anniversaries stopped being measured in years?

7 March 2015

‘You must promise to be with us for our silver wedding D.V. which will be in four years,’ wrote Queen Victoria in February 1861 to her daughter Vicky in Prussia,… Read more

US-POLITICS-OBAMA

America’s greatest tradition: inventing spurious traditions

28 February 2015

  Fredericksburg, Virginia Americans crave traditions. The older they are the more we cherish them. Thanksgiving, which beats out Christmas, was invented by Abe Lincoln in 1863 but it is… Read more

Sir James Goldsmith

Zac Goldsmith: How my dad saved Britain

28 February 2015

In recent weeks Ed Balls has been offering a new reason to vote Labour: it was his party, he says, that saved Britain from joining the euro. Now, the shadow… Read more

Portrait of Lord Dufferin, 1893

The first Lord Dufferin: the eclipse of a most eminent Victorian

28 February 2015
The Lost Imperialist: Lord Dufferin, Memory and Mythmaking in an Age of Celebrity Andrew Gailey

John Murray, pp.464, £30, ISBN: 9781444792430

The first Marquess of Dufferin and Ava is largely forgotten today — rotten luck for the great diplomat of the Victorian age. In the second half of the 19th century,… Read more

WRACS Celebrate

VE day anniversary: why politics will take second place the day after the election

21 February 2015

Breakfast is under way on 8 May 2015, and the party leaders have already started haggling. The possibility of a loveless Labour/SNP ‘anti-austerity’ pact has sent the markets tumbling. With… Read more

rowleys-9492

Rowleys is Did Mummy Love Me Really? food – and it’s perfect

21 February 2015

I think Rowley’s is the perfect restaurant; but I am really a gay man. Rowley’s is at 113 Jermyn Street (the Tesco end). It was made in homage to the… Read more