Books

Life at the Globe: good golly, Henry V has some thumping lines

11 May 2019 9:00 am

‘Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more/ Or close the wall up with our English dead…’

Will Wiles. Credit: Marcus Ross

Who needs psychogeography? Plume, by Will Wiles, reviewed

11 May 2019 9:00 am

With his first novel about looking after an engineered wood floor, and a second novel about what it is like…

What really amused Queen Victoria? Dwarfs, giants and bearded women

11 May 2019 9:00 am

The American dwarf ‘General’ Tom Thumb is only mentioned once in Lee Jackson’s encyclopaedic survey of Victorian mass entertainment, and…

London after the Great Fire: The King’s Evil, by Andrew Taylor, reviewed

11 May 2019 9:00 am

The scene is London in 1667, the city recovering from the Great Fire the year before, with 80,000 people homeless…

Is there no end to the retelling of classical myths?

11 May 2019 9:00 am

In the past few years there has been a flourishing of literary responses to the Trojan war. To mention a…

A hero of the Franco era: Lord of All the Dead, by Javier Cercas, reviewed

11 May 2019 9:00 am

Who is a hero? Javier Cercas, in his 2001 novel Soldiers of Salamis, asked the question, searching for an anonymous…

Not all British memsahibs were racist snobs

4 May 2019 9:00 am

Though often cruelly caricatured, the British memsahib became a significant face of imperial rule, says Philip Hensher

Searching for the sublime in deep dark holes

4 May 2019 9:00 am

Edmund Burke, as a young Irish lawyer in 1756, first made the distinction between beauty and sublimity. Beauty for Burke…

Looking back on Baku

4 May 2019 9:00 am

The discovery of oil in Baku brought Ummulbanu Asadullayeva’s family respect if not respectability. Peasant-born, her grandparents ranked by the…

How Camilla’s grandfather helped popularise the architecture Prince Charles detests

4 May 2019 9:00 am

Was the Bauhaus the most inspired art school of all time or the malignant source of an uglifying industrial culture…

Fantasist, bigamist and cheat: the colourful career of Robert Parkin Peters

4 May 2019 9:00 am

In 2010, Adam Sisman published a masterly biography of Hugh Trevor-Roper, who was not merely one of the best historians…

A very tangled web: Liar, by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen, reviewed

4 May 2019 9:00 am

The Hebrew word for ‘truth’ – see above left  (emet) is comprised of the first, middle and last letters of…

Desperate mothers, abandoned babies: the tragic story of London’s foundlings

4 May 2019 9:00 am

One of the oddest of Bloomsbury’s event venues must be the Foundling Museum. The handsome building on Coram’s Fields houses…

How poetry turned a failing comprehensive into one of Oxford’s most oversubscribed schools

4 May 2019 9:00 am

Kate Clanchy is an extraordinary person. She is a veteran of 30 years’ teaching in difficult state schools, as well…

Fame made Gabriel García Márquez a pedantic bore

4 May 2019 9:00 am

Gerald Martin’s titanic biography of 2010, Gabriel García Márquez: A Life, was the product of 17 years of research and…

Would Turkey exist as a nation if it hadn’t annihilated its Christians?

4 May 2019 9:00 am

Turkey greets you with a chilly blue eye, a flared eyebrow, a cliff-like cheekbone. The face of the republic’s founder…

Should adoptive parents be allowed to pick and choose their child?

4 May 2019 9:00 am

The sorrow of involuntary childlessness is profound. The award-winning novelist Patrick Flanery and his husband knew this pain. Their craving…

Satirising the global society: Only Americans Burn in Hell, by Jarett Kobek, reviewed

4 May 2019 9:00 am

An immortal faery queen from a magical gynocratic island arrives in Los Angeles to track down her missing daughter. This…

Brutus’s betrayal is a tragic inevitability. The soothsayer warns Julius Caesar to ‘Beware the Ides of March’, in a 19th-century wood engraving by Sir John Gilbert

Has Shakespeare become the mascot of Brexit Britain?

27 April 2019 9:00 am

Shakespeare often seems uncannily relevant to the times – and Brexit Britain is no exception, says Daniel Swift

Keble College chapel, Oxford, designed by William Butterfield, whose churches were an intentionally ugly rebuke to oppressive Georgian architecture

It’s ugliness, not beauty, that spurs us to action

27 April 2019 9:00 am

Timothy Hyde’s Ugliness and Judgment: On Architecture in the Public Eye is not about why we find things ugly. It’s…

The serious games of the Oulipians

27 April 2019 9:00 am

Have you heard of the Oulipo? The long-running Parisian workshop for experimental writing? Even if you haven’t, you might have…

Cracking jokes with Dr Johnson

27 April 2019 9:00 am

I cast my Readers under two general Divisions, the Mercurial and the Saturnine. The first are the gay part of…

Would Faber & Faber still exist without T.S. Eliot?

27 April 2019 9:00 am

Like many a 20th-century publishing house, the fine old firm of Faber & Faber came about almost by accident. The…

An outsider inside: We, The Survivors, by Tash Aw, reviewed

27 April 2019 9:00 am

It’s not immediately obvious who the survivors in Tash Aw’s formidable new novel are, or who the narrator even is,…

A remote island tribe in Indonesia makes whaling seem positively noble

27 April 2019 9:00 am

Our relations with cetaceans have always been charged with danger and delight, represented by the extremes of the Book of…