Literature

Loveliest of trees: ‘Cherry blossom at Asakura’ by Ando or Utagawa Hiroshige.The flowering cherry is a national obsession in Japan — and in Korea has been eradicated

The oak doesn't belong to England

13 August 2016 9:00 am

Was it perhaps the landscape historian Oliver Rackham who gave rise to our present preoccupation with old trees through his…

Show your colours: a digital visualisation of this year’s Edinburgh International Festival’s closing light display

Scotland’s cultural scene is becoming vile, venal and parochial

13 August 2016 9:00 am

Many years ago an arts spokesperson for the SNP launched an extraordinary attack on Scottish Opera, saying, ‘If push comes…

(Photo: Getty)

Andrew Marr: I believe the Brexit chatter

18 June 2016 9:00 am

Also in his Spectator diary: life without coffee, the birth of modern popular fiction, and ‘home rule all round’

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What I’ve learned reciting poems in the street

2 April 2016 9:00 am

What I’ve learned from reciting verse in the street

Did criticism kill John Keats? Sketch by Joseph Severn of the poet in his last illness

Aphorisms and the arts: from Aristotle to Oscar Wilde

19 March 2016 9:00 am

The author of this jam-packed treasure trove has been a film critic at the New York Times since 2000 and…

Autumn: time for a pie

Autumn, season of conkers and new boots

26 September 2015 8:00 am

Each year when I see the first conker of the autumn I think: fire up the ancestral ovens! This incendiary…

Calais Migrants Attempt To Find A Way To Reach The UK

Meet the librarians – and book borrowers – of the Calais Jungle

19 September 2015 8:00 am

In the middle of the Calais migrant camp, there is a book-filled haven of peace

With rain threatening, Jane Bennet departs for Netherfield — with her mother’s approval. Illustration by Hugh Thomson for Pride and Prejudice (1894)

Rain, shine and the human imagination — from Adam and Eve to David Hockney

12 September 2015 9:00 am

‘Pray don’t talk to me about the weather, Mr Worthing,’ pleads Gwendolen in The Importance of Being Earnest. ‘Whenever people…

Mary Shelley by Richard Rothwell

There’s something about Mary (Wollstonecraft and Shelley)

25 April 2015 9:00 am

If Mary Wollstonecraft, as she once declared, ‘was not born to tred in the beaten track’, the same with even…

Tolstoy with his secretary at Yasnaya Polyana, 1906

The prophet Tolstoy and his dodgy vicar

24 January 2015 9:00 am

One fine day in June 1896, a lone Russian nihilist visited Leo Tolstoy on his country estate. Come to hear…

Churchill reading in his library at Chartwell

Churchill was as mad as a badger. We should all be thankful

19 April 2014 9:00 am

The egotistical Churchill may have viewed the second world war as pure theatre, but that was exactly what was needed at the time, says Sam Leith

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Is any kind of sex still taboo in literature?

8 March 2014 9:00 am

Is there any kind of love that novelists still can’t touch?

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Ian Buruma’s notebook: Teenagers discover Montaigne the blogger

22 February 2014 9:00 am

Bard College in upstate New York, where I teach in the spring semester, is an interesting institution, once better known…

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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…

Scarlett O’Hara runs through the streets of burning Atlanta

'Where are the happy fictional spinsters?'

18 January 2014 9:00 am

This book arose from an argument. Lifelong bookworm Samantha Ellis and her best friend had gone to Brontë country and…

Top of the happiness scale: Chaucer’s Canterbury Pilgrims (English School, 15th century)

Look! Shakespeare! Wow! George Eliot! Criminy! Jane Austen!

16 November 2013 9:00 am

Among the precursors to this breezy little book are, in form, the likes of The Story of Art, Our Island…

Lose weight the Muriel Spark way

24 August 2013 9:00 am

Those of you dieting your way to a svelte physique amid the flesh-exposing terrors of summer should take courage from…

Mind your language: The springs before the Arab Spring

3 August 2013 9:00 am

Two hundred and forty-years ago next Tuesday, Thomas Gray was buried in his mother’s grave in Stoke Poges churchyard. In…

High life

23 March 2013 9:00 am

He was a member of a charmed circle of Hellene and Philhellene intellectuals just before and after the second world…

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

Monsieur Hollande and Madame Bovary

2 June 2012 10:00 am

François Hollande has had it with austerity. Well, fair enough — austerity is dull and painful. No wonder other European…

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In a Greene shade

26 May 2012 4:00 pm

One of the unanticipated benefits of British rule in India is the body of distinguished writing in the English language…

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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

Abiding inspiration

17 March 2012 9:00 am

In 1971 looking back over his life, Lionel Trilling (1905-1975) declared himself surprised at being referred to as a critic.…