Tama Janowitz with rocker Nick Rhodes (Photo: Getty)

Tama Janowitz doesn’t write to be liked, just as well

17 September 2016 9:00 am

Tama Janowitz’s memoir is a relentlessly cheerless and bitter collection of vignettes. Between tales of her purportedly miserly, creepy and…

Too much clutter: Gina Lollobrigida reorganises her wardrobe

When does a collector turn into a hoarder?

17 September 2016 9:00 am

The enormous desk on which I am writing this is swamped by four precarious piles of books, one topped by…

17th- and 18th-century buttons from John Taylor’s Birmingham workshop

In grandmother’s treasure-chest

13 February 2016 9:00 am

Juliet Nicolson examines women’s lives and changing fashions through a rich hoard of buttons for all occasions

A story to tell: King Constantine of Greece and his wife Anne Marie (Photo: Getty)

The King of Greece tells it like it really was

6 February 2016 9:00 am

Athens Viewed from Mars, this is a sunny, peaceful city. Up close, however, things ain’t what they used to be.…

Author Diana Athill (Photo: Getty)

Diana Athill finally accepts ‘Old Woman’ status, aged 98

23 January 2016 9:00 am

There’s something reassuring about 98-year-old Diana Athill. She’s stately and well-ordered, like the gardens at Ditchingham Hall in Norfolk, her…


Am I a brave cult survivor, too?

12 December 2015 9:00 am

When I was 21, I lived with a cult for a year. It was a commune really, a tight-knit group…

Death online

The brave thing now: don’t write about your death

25 July 2015 9:00 am

In the social media age, breaking ‘the last taboo’ is de rigueur

French mathematician Cedric Villani Photo: Getty

How could anyone enjoy Cédric Villani’s ‘Birth of a Theorem’? I think I’ve worked it out

28 February 2015 9:00 am

I’ve got a mathematical problem. Birth of a Theorem is by one of the great geniuses of today, a cosmopolitan,…

An unholy cross between Big Ben and Las Vegas, the Makkah Royal Clock Tower stands on an estimated 400 sites of cultural and historical importance

Mecca: from shrine to shopping mall

6 December 2014 9:00 am

The Saudis, official custodians of Islam’s holiest place, have bulldozed its historical sites, perverted its religion and turned Mecca into one vast shopping mall, says Justin Marozzi

Even Cilla’s biographer admits that critics were justified in knocking the ‘prurience ‘of Blind Date

Five of the best celebrity biographies of 2014

6 December 2014 9:00 am

Cilla Black has become a strange creature during her 50 years in showbiz. When her husband Bobby was in hospital…


The unbearable vanity of Kevin Pietersen

11 October 2014 9:00 am

Pietersen’s self-indulgent tales of woe lack credibility

Frank Keating with cricketer Ian Botham Photo: Getty

When Geoff Boycott was a DJ in a Sydney nightclub

21 June 2014 8:00 am

Sport isn’t about putting a ball into a net or over a bar or into a hole. It’s about the…

Mary and Papa, Downing Street, July 1942

‘Papa told us everything’: Winston Churchill and the remarkable Mary Soames

7 June 2014 9:00 am

Memories of Mary Soames, Churchill’s remarkable daughter

Meadow pipit

Read this book and you’ll see why our meadows are so precious

7 June 2014 9:00 am

This book is a portrait of one man’s meadow. Our now almost vanished meadowland, with its tapestry of wildflowers, abundant…

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…

W H Auden (Photo: H V Drees/Getty Images)

What would Auden have deemed evil in our time? European jingoism

9 November 2013 9:00 am

‘Goodbye to the Mezzogiorno’ was the first Auden poem that Alexander McCall Smith read in his youth. He discovered it…


'If I can barely speak, then I shall surely sing'

26 October 2013 9:00 am

A few weeks ago, I was wandering with a friend around West London when our conversation turned to the reliable…


How to get old without getting boring

19 October 2013 9:00 am

When one notices the first symptoms of senile dementia (forgetting names, trying to remember the purpose of moving from one…

Lucian Freud in his bedroom in Notting Hill, May 2011

Breakfast with Lucian, by Geordie Greig - review

12 October 2013 9:00 am

According to the medical historian Professor Sonu Shamdasani, Sigmund Freud was not the best, nor actually the most interesting, psychoanalyst…

Mayonnaise: a key component of Soviet cooking

Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking, by Anya von Bremzen - review

12 October 2013 9:00 am

The early 1990s in Russia were hungry years. At the time, I was a student, too idle to barter and…

Move Along, Please, by Mark Mason - review

28 September 2013 9:00 am

Mrs Thatcher was widely believed to have said that ‘any man over the age of 26 who finds himself on…

‘I don’t mind being a monster, but there are limits’

The World According to Karl, edited by Jean-Christophe Napias - review

14 September 2013 9:00 am

Every fashion era has its monster and in ours it’s Karl Lagerfeld, a man who has so emptied himself on…

Romanian peasant uses an old plough pull

The Broken Road, by Patrick Leigh Fermor - review

7 September 2013 9:00 am

Sound the trumpets. Let rip the Byzantine chorus of clattering bells and gongs, the thunder of cannons, drums and flashing…

A Rogues’ Gallery, by Peter Lewis - review

24 August 2013 9:00 am

Like Mel Brooks’s character the Two Thousand-Year-Old Man, Peter Lewis has met everyone of consequence. Though he doesn’t mention being…

Bitter Experience Has Taught Me, by Nicholas Lezard - review

17 August 2013 9:00 am

What, really, is a literary education for? What’s the point of it? How, precisely, does it help when you’re another…