Books

Is London’s Green Belt responsible for its housing crisis?

17 June 2017 9:00 am

‘The area’s isolation has given it a strong sense of community and independence,’ runs the Wikipedia entry on New Addington.…

The romance and drama of the night train is captured in Charles d’Albert’s illustration

Time to wake up to the benefits of the sleeper

25 February 2017 9:00 am

As a child, I used to travel with my mother from London to Cannes, a journey that took slightly under…

Maipure Indians, inhabitants of the Upper Orinoco, grill the limbs of a dead enemy (Italian engraving, 1781)

Eating people is rare (and very unhealthy)

4 February 2017 9:00 am

The subject has been popularised from Homer to the Brothers Grimm, but, mercifully, human cannibalism has always been rare, says Philip Hensher

‘Snow scene in the Garden of a Daimyo’. Triptych by Hiroshige and Uagawa Kunisada

The terrible beauty of snow

10 December 2016 9:00 am

Here is William Diaper in 1722, translating Oppian’s Halieuticks (a Greek epic poem on the loves of the fishes): As…

Sketch of Dr James Barry

Doctor in disguise: the secret life of James Barry

27 August 2016 9:00 am

On 25 July 1865, during a heatwave, Dr James Barry died of dysentery in his London lodgings. A charwoman came…

Sir Walter Scott and some of his most famous creations, by E.F. Skinner

Scottish literature’s long and splendid history

30 July 2016 9:00 am

There is an immediate problem for anyone producing a guide to places in Scotland with literary connections: as Walter Scott…

Is there no such thing as new science?

30 July 2016 9:00 am

Rupert Sheldrake had it coming. In A New Science of Life (1981), he argued that animals and plants have inherited…

St Mark’s Gospel is as good as EastEnders

30 July 2016 9:00 am

More brides in Britain go down the aisle to Gloria Gaynor’s ‘I Will Survive’ than to any other tune, Simon…

The clock is ticking: women paint luminous dials in 1932

The Radium Girls — still glowing in their coffins

11 June 2016 9:00 am

On the morning of 15 October 1927, a dim, autumn day, a group of men foregathered at the Rosedale cemetery…

Benjamin Franklin in London, with the bust of Isaac Newton on his desk

Benjamin Franklin: from man about town to man on the run

27 February 2016 9:00 am

Just who was Benjamin Franklin? Apart, that is, from journalist, statesman, diplomat, founding father of the United States, inventor of…

Small comfort: a mother, whose only son was killed in a car accident at the age of 23, holds a picture of him as a child. Many such bereaved parents, unable to conceive again and struggling to support themselves in later life, say they have nothing left to live for

China’s brutal one-child policy will be catastrophic for us all

16 January 2016 9:00 am

China’s brutal one-child policy was not only inhuman; it will profoundly damage the rest of the world, says Hilary Spurling

The top loo books of 2015

21 November 2015 9:00 am

There is not, sadly, a dedicated Trivia Books section in your local Waterstones, although at this time of year there…

The Tower of Babel by Lucas van Valckenborch, 1591

The buildings we treasure most are often the ones we’ve never seen

14 November 2015 9:00 am

Here are two books which have almost nothing in common: form, function, source material, methodology, all utterly different. The surprise…

Proof that the British hardly ever had a stiff upper lip

10 October 2015 9:00 am

The last time I cried was September 1989. That was my first week at public school. The reason I cried…

White glazed bowl, Shunzhi-Kangxi period, Qing dynasty, 1650–70

The perils of porcelain – and the pleasures of Edmund de Waal

19 September 2015 8:00 am

A.S. Byatt on the dark, deadly secrets lurking beneath a calm, white surface

Trials of the century: sex, sodomy, espionage, theft and fraud

27 June 2015 9:00 am

Jeremy Hutchinson was the doyen of the criminal bar in the 1960s and 1970s. No Old Bailey hack or parvenu…

From ambrosia to zabaglione — now with added slavery

13 June 2015 9:00 am

This Oxford Companion ranges from the sweet to the decidedly salty, while being the most politically correct reference book you will ever consult, says Paul Levy

Hitler with the Goebbels family in the late 1930s

Joseph Goebbels: Hitler’s ‘little doctor’ was devoted unto death

9 May 2015 9:00 am

It is ironic that this weighty biography of Hitler’s evil genius of a propaganda minister is published on the day…

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…

Following Galileo’s discoveries, a rugged, cratered moon is depicted (with papal approval) by Ludovico Cigoli in his ‘Assumption of the Virgin in the Pauline Chapel’

Moving heaven and earth: Galileo’s subversive spyglass

11 April 2015 9:00 am

We live in an age of astronomical marvels. Last year Europe’s Rosetta spacecraft made a daring rendezvous with the comet…

Although Keynes hated his appearance, he was much painted by the Bloomsbury Group, including by Roger Fry (above)

John Maynard Keynes: transforming global economy while reading Virginia Woolf

28 March 2015 9:00 am

To the 21st-century right, especially in the United States, John Maynard Keynes has become a much-hated figure whose name is…

Anders Brievik: lonely computer-gamer on a killing spree

14 March 2015 9:00 am

In 2011, Anders Breivik murdered 69 teenagers in a socialist summer camp outside the Norwegian capital of Oslo, and eight…

John Aubrey and his circle: those magnificent men and their flying machines

14 March 2015 9:00 am

John Aubrey investigated everything from the workings of the brain, the causation of winds and the origins of Stonehenge to…

Portrait of Lord Dufferin, 1893

The first Lord Dufferin: the eclipse of a most eminent Victorian

28 February 2015 9:00 am

The first Marquess of Dufferin and Ava is largely forgotten today — rotten luck for the great diplomat of the…

Tony Judt: a man of paradox who made perfect sense

7 February 2015 9:00 am

Tony Judt was not only a great historian, he was also a great essayist and commentator on international politics. Few…