Books

‘An inconceivable operation of the gigantic forces of nature’: a total solar eclipse sweeps across Indonesia in March 2016

Darkness visible – the wondrous power of eclipses

22 April 2017 9:00 am

Marek Kukula was surprised to find himself moved to tears when he first witnessed a solar eclipse

Before the 17th century, all carrots were red, white and yellow. Orange ones were a new species. Image: Rex Images

Anyone for apple pie - with orchard birdsong and a squirt of perfume?

22 April 2017 9:00 am

After reading Gastrophysics: The New Science of Eating, you might, as I did, sit for a bit wondering what a…

Donald Trump is beyond satire

22 April 2017 9:00 am

I think we’re all agreed about Donald Trump — by which I mean all of us who read the literary…

Fabulous music and the vinyl fanatics

22 April 2017 9:00 am

Every year at this time, as trees come into bud and flowers bloom, middle-aged men (and a few women) sleep…

The chick and the dead: Clare Holman plays the pathologist Dr Laura Hobson in Inspector Morse. Rex images.

The perfect place to fall in love? The mortuary

22 April 2017 9:00 am

I grew up with a skeleton in the attic. My mother’s clinical training bestowed on our family a short man’s…

How the Osage Indians were murdered for their oil

22 April 2017 9:00 am

In the early 1920s, while the United States was entering its crazed phase of prohibition and prosperity, a group of…

The latest first novels are full of violence, loss and grief

22 April 2017 9:00 am

If you go down to the woods today… That is the starting point for Idaho by Emily Ruskovich, who grew…

Tall tales from the Durrells of Corfu

22 April 2017 9:00 am

When I was at boarding school in the early 1970s, the Durrells, or at least Gerald, were immensely popular. My…

An English merchant bargains with an Indian in a 16th-century cotton tapestry

From yob to nabob: the astonishing rise of the Tudor merchant adventurer

22 April 2017 9:00 am

Tudor merchants — shivering in furs in tiny creaking ships, sailing through the ice of unknown winter seas — knew…

Leonora Carrington’s adventures in surrealism

15 April 2017 9:00 am

The surrealists’ muse and a distinguished artist in her own right, Leonora Carrington captivated all who met her, says Jane Rye

What do Joan Rivers and Enoch Powell have in common?

15 April 2017 9:00 am

This is a gem of a book for Radio 4 lovers, particularly those of us who work out which day…

Liberal lefties should relish hating the Daily Mail while they can

15 April 2017 9:00 am

According to Private Eye, executives at the Daily Mail were alarmed by the impending publication of Adrian Addison’s new history…

Making amends to Native Americans may be endangering their history

15 April 2017 9:00 am

A few years ago, a group of Native American leaders drove 12 hours from Oklahoma to Denver Museum of Nature…

The picture-postcard English village has long been a sham

15 April 2017 9:00 am

The old coaching inn on the green. The Sunday morning toll of church bells. The ducklings paddling on the pond.…

‘The Death of Lord Robert Manners’ by Thomas Stothard

The short, heroic life of Lord Robert Manners

15 April 2017 8:00 am

In the north transept of Westminster Abbey, there is a memorial by Joseph Nollekens to three British captains killed at…

Turner’s Stonehenge is strewn with the bodies of sheep and their shepherd, victims of an electrical storm

Romancing the standing stones

15 April 2017 8:00 am

If Britain’s prehistoric monuments have had a magnetic attraction for generations of artists, it is perhaps because they have long…

A computer illustration of people in cryogenic pods

Who on earth wants to live forever with the people who want to live forever?

15 April 2017 8:00 am

Are you a deathist? A deathist is someone who accepts the fact of death, who thinks the ongoing massacre of…

Nicky Beard on holiday in Cornwall shortly before his death

The tragedy of a brother’s drowning

8 April 2017 9:00 am

Nicholas Shakespeare is full of admiration for Richard Beard’s painful inquest into the death of his brother

Sign for a thermopolium (taverna) in Pompeii, depicting a phoenix, with the inscription ‘Phoenix Felix et Tu’ – ‘the Phoenix is happy (or lucky) – and you!’

The myth and magic of the phoenix

8 April 2017 9:00 am

The most appealing phoenix in literature is surely the eponymous bird from E. Nesbit’s 1904 classic, The Phoenix and the…

César Aira is a master of the supernatural

8 April 2017 9:00 am

The Argentinian writer César Aira is a prodigy: at the age of 68 he has published, according to a ‘partial…

Fresh-faced and knowing: Charlotte Rampling in the 1970s

The sexy inscrutability of Charlotte Rampling

8 April 2017 9:00 am

This slight book comes with heavy baggage. In 2009, Rampling handed back a hefty advance for her contribution to a…

Maud Russell: mistress of Mottisfont Abbey — and Ian Fleming

8 April 2017 9:00 am

The name Maud Russell creeps almost apologetically into a few 20th-century diaries such as those of her friend Violet Bonham…

How Min Kym’s life became unstrung

8 April 2017 9:00 am

Min Kym is a violinist, but if you Google her name you won’t find sound-clips or concert reviews, touring schedules…

Murder and mayhem in 18th-century Bristol

8 April 2017 9:00 am

Helen Dunmore’s new novel concerns lives, consequential in their day, that pass away into utter oblivion. Appropriately, the ‘solitary and…

The Mountains of Parnassus: Czeslaw Milosz’s curious sci-fi experiment

8 April 2017 9:00 am

Science fiction is not the first thing one thinks of in connection with the Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz, though the…