Sylvia Plath

‘The funeral of Shelley’ by Louis Edouard Paul Fournier, 1889

Why are ‘doomed’ poets considered the only good ones?

11 February 2017 9:00 am

In Deaths of the Poets two living examples of the species, Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts, retail the closing…

Robert Lowell c. 1940

Love, Robert Lowell and poetic licence

27 February 2016 9:00 am

The conceit of this book — the author’s third on Robert Lowell — is strong, although its execution is less…

Patti Smith, Amsterdam, 1976

Patti Smith grows old too gracefully

14 November 2015 9:00 am

‘Jesus died for somebody’s sins/ but not mine’: the opening lines of Patti Smith’s 1975 debut album, Horses, find a…

Hughes in 1986: Bate simply fails to make the case his book stands on – that the poet was a sadist

An unauthorised, and unconvincing, biography of Ted Hughes

3 October 2015 8:00 am

Craig Raine says that Jonathan Bate’s unauthorised biography of Ted Hughes gets it wrong on every level

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…

‘Lorna Doone’s bower’. An illustration from R.D. Blackmore’s ‘Romance of Exmoor’, 1869

A pork-pie and Capri-Sun fuelled hike around England’s moors

14 June 2014 8:00 am

‘No, no’ I said, when The Spectator’s literary editor rang up, ‘I’m sure you must be able to find someone…