Books

Pamela Hansford Johnson (right) and Elizabeth Taylor at a Book Society party in Knightsbridge in 1954

Lonely hearts and guilty minds: the world of Pamela Hansford Johnson

13 October 2018 9:00 am

Pamela Hansford Johnson, once a powerful figure in literary circles, is now largely forgotten. Are her novels worth returning to, wonders Philip Hensher

Advertisement for circus acts at the Da Shi Jie entertainment complex, Shanghai

The circus visits every corner of the globe — even Antarctica

13 October 2018 9:00 am

We’re celebrating 250 years of circus this year. In 1768, the retired cavalryman and entrepreneur Philip Astley, together with his…

Pithy and profound: the beauty of aphorisms

13 October 2018 9:00 am

It’s not surprising, perhaps, that Emil Cioran isn’t much read in England. Born in Romania, but winning a scholarship to…

Secrets and lies: Berta Isla, by Javier Marías, reviewed

13 October 2018 9:00 am

A novel by Javier Marías, as his millions of readers know, is never what it purports to be. Spain’s most…

Gandhi strides forth on the Salt March in 1930, protesting against the government’s monopoly of salt production

Gandhi on Hitler: ‘I do not believe him to be as bad as he is portrayed’

13 October 2018 9:00 am

‘It’s a beautiful world if it wasn’t for Gandhi who is really a perfect nuisance,’ Lord Willingdon, Viceroy of India,…

The passions of Paulo: Enigma Variations, by André Aciman, reviewed

13 October 2018 9:00 am

André Aciman’s 2007 debut novel, Call Me By Your Name, was a sensuous, captivating account of the passionate love a…

Silk-weaving in China. An illustration from a book on the silk industry. Chinese school, 19th century

Stitches in time: The history of the world through the eye of a needle

13 October 2018 9:00 am

I recently read a book in which the author, describing rural life in the early 19th century, casually mentioned clothing…

How indiscretions over Suez ruined Rab Butler

13 October 2018 9:00 am

I bet that you are at best dimly aware of the Progress Trust, and that is what the members of…

Giving the famous V-sign at the opening of RAAF headquarters, Croydon, 1948 [Getty]

Is this the best Churchill biography yet?

6 October 2018 9:00 am

Andrew Roberts finds that self-confidence was the key to Churchill’s success, says Philip Ziegler. His new biography is a generous portrait of this most written-about of statesmen

Love is blind, but lust is not; William Boyd’s 15th novel reviewed

6 October 2018 9:00 am

William Boyd’s 15th novel begins well enough. In 1894 Edinburgh, a 24-year-old piano tuner is promoted to the Paris branch…

Behind the Throne is a cracking read about a neglected subject – the royal household

6 October 2018 9:00 am

Never judge a book by its cover. To look at, this is a coffee-table book with shiny pages which make…

‘The Conversation’, by Henri Matisse, 1908–1912, the State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

It is not the masterpieces that were lost, but the collectors, Natalya Semenova rights a wrong

6 October 2018 9:00 am

It is not as surprising at it sounds that two of the greatest collectors of modern art should have been…

Kim Phuc Phan Thi – Napalm Girl – stands in front of the iconic 1972 photograph that changed public opinion worldwide

The disaster of Vietnam and the men who can’t get over it

6 October 2018 9:00 am

Many wars have outsized and enduring effects on the societies that fight them, but for Americans the Vietnam war has…

To reflect on the brilliance of your writing, you had better be sure of its brilliance

6 October 2018 9:00 am

Nominative determinism is the term for that pleasing accord you occasionally find between name and profession: the immigration minister named…

A sinister feeling hangs over Sarah Moss’s claustrophobic sixth novel

6 October 2018 9:00 am

Sarah Moss’s concise, claustrophobic sixth novel concerns the perils of family life. The narrator Silvie is a frustrated 17-year-old on…

Cable and Deadpool recreate the image from the Sistine chapel (Deadpool 2) [Rex Shutterstock]

Which comes first, the events or the zeitgeist? Peter Biskind examines pop culture

6 October 2018 9:00 am

Those who study culture — or think about public policy in relation to it — often wrestle with the classic…

Shashi Tharoor’s book is a polemic, says Kapil Komireddi – beware of Hindu nationalism

6 October 2018 9:00 am

Most religions bind their adherents into a community of believers. Hinduism segregates them into castes. And people excluded from the…

Some novels are aptly named – Distortion is one of them

6 October 2018 9:00 am

Coming 12 years after his acclaimed debut, Londonstani, Gautam Malkani’s second novel Distortion features a vivid argot, complicating and defamiliarising…

Is it possible to talk about wine without sounding like a prat?

6 October 2018 9:00 am

There are only two British television wine presenters taxi drivers have heard of, Jilly Goolden and Oz Clarke. Who can…

Oleg Gordievsky, the ultimate spy story — and Ben Macintyre, the best writer to tell it

6 October 2018 9:00 am

Spy stories, whether the stuff of fictional thrillers or, as in the case of Sergei Skripal, the real deal —…

L’ecrivain irlandais Oscar Wilde, by Max Beerbohm

An old-school biography, a big subject, and a book as heavy as a house brick, Oscar reviewed

6 October 2018 9:00 am

In the autumn of 1897, after two years in jail on a charge of ‘gross indecency’, Oscar Wilde absconded to…

‘Portrait of Friedrich Nietzsche’, Edvard Munch, c. 1906

Nietzsche’s intense friendship with Wagner forms the core of Sue Prideaux’s excellent new biography

29 September 2018 9:00 am

In 1945, with the second world war won bar the shouting, Bertrand Russell polished off his brief examination of Friedrich…

Myth-making from ancient to modern – but Metamorphica doesn’t quite live up to Ovid

29 September 2018 9:00 am

‘My spirit moves me to speak of forms changed into new bodies,’ proclaimed Ovid at the beginning of the Metamorphoses:…

The English clergy at their oddest – a compendium

29 September 2018 9:00 am

As the wordy title of this book and the name of its author suggest, this is a faux-archaic, fogeyish journey…

Thomas Cromwell, c. 1530, Holbein School

Diarmaid MacCulloch delves deep into the soul of Thomas Cromwell – administrator, henchman and evangelical

29 September 2018 9:00 am

The final moments of Hilary Mantel’s magnificent Wolf Hall see its central protagonist, Thomas Cromwell, trying to banish ghosts. Assailed…