Books

Fanny Cornforth’s mouth comes under Kathryn Hughes’s scrutiny. The Pre-Raphaelite muse is seen here in Rossetti’s ‘The Blue Bower’

Why did Darwin grow a beard? And what was George Eliot so keen to hide?

21 January 2017 9:00 am

The fetishisation of the Victorians shows no sign of abating. Over the past 16 years, since the centenary of the…

Robert Olen Butler’s anguished hero is haunted by the wrong war

21 January 2017 9:00 am

At first glance, Robert Olen Butler’s Perfume River seems like an application for a National Book Award. Its protagonist, Robert,…

Beastly tales from Hungary

21 January 2017 9:00 am

The Hungarian novelist László Krasznahorkai has only lately become known to Anglophone audiences, through the masterly translations of George Szirtes…

Children in Rose Town in 2008, one of the poorest areas of Kingston, Jamaica , with one of the highest crime rates in the world

The hellish paradise of the Caribbean

21 January 2017 9:00 am

‘Short of writing a thesis in many volumes,’ Patrick Leigh Fermor wrote in his preface to The Traveller’s Tree, ‘only…

A chain of Harvard Observatory employees, photographed in 1918

The Harvard housewives who measured the heavens

14 January 2017 9:00 am

Marek Kukula tells how, in the late 19th century, Harvard Observatory began to rely on a number of women – ranging from graduates to housemaids – to analyse an explosion of scientific data

‘The Continuation of the Road from London to Aberystwyth’, from John Ogilby’s Britannia

The first British road atlas — a luxury fit for a king

14 January 2017 9:00 am

Given that he wrote and published some of the most stunningly handsome books of the 17th century, John Ogilby has…

A year in the life of Ivan Chistyakov, Gulag guard

14 January 2017 9:00 am

Spare a thought for the poor Gulag guard: the rifleman standing in the freezing wind on the outside of the…

Anne, left, with Emily. Detail of Branwell’s group portrait of the Brontës. Though he painted himself out, his ghostly presence can be seen on the right

Was ‘the other Brontë’ the best of them all?

14 January 2017 9:00 am

Fans of the novels and poems written by the sibling inhabitants of Haworth Parsonage always have a Top Brontë. Fame-seeking…

Films, friendship and facets of truth

14 January 2017 9:00 am

Others goes straight to the head. Things start like this: with an article on a website called ‘Women and Film’,…

Britain’s black history has been shamefully whitewashed

14 January 2017 9:00 am

I have been researching and writing about black British history for over 30 years but never before have I been…

The Streatham portrait, thought to be the best likeness of Lady Jane Grey

Lady Jane Grey — a quintessential Tudor

14 January 2017 9:00 am

It is easy to see why the bare century of the Tudor dynasty’s rule has drawn so much attention from…

Bogdan Stashinsky: the inspiration for The Man with the Golden Gun

14 January 2017 9:00 am

As I read the last chapter of this book, news broke that the Russian ambassador to Ankara, Andrey Karlov, had…

Bruce Springsteen gives a joyful, mind-clearing, soul-invigorating performance

If only Bruce Springsteen could write as well as he sings

14 January 2017 9:00 am

‘John, we need your autobiography.’ ‘I thought I’d express my life experience in song.’ ‘That’ll be fine.’ This would be…

Tim Pears’s pastoral schmaltz would make perfect Sunday evening telly

14 January 2017 9:00 am

Set in rural England in 1911, Tim Pears’s latest novel tells of a friendship between 12-year-old Leo, a precocious carter,…

Dinah Craik, author of John Halifax, Gentleman, and a genuinely enjoyable writer

Women writers who deserve to be forgotten

7 January 2017 9:00 am

When resurrecting forgotten writers of the past, make sure they’re not neglected for good reason, says Philip Hensher

Cricket is Jonathan Trott's life – and it has made him suffer

7 January 2017 9:00 am

Frankie Howerd, the great, if troubled, comedian, was once asked whether he enjoyed performing. ‘I enjoy having performed,’ he replied.…

Josette Day and Jean Marias in La Belle et La Bête, one of Cocteau’s most visually stunning films

Jean Cocteau: confessions of an opium addict

7 January 2017 9:00 am

All biography is both an act of homage and a labour of dissection, and all biographers are jealous of their…

Jeremy Corbyn is taking Labour back to the 1640s

7 January 2017 9:00 am

Jeremy Corbyn will probably enjoy this book — which doesn’t mean you won’t. Asked to name the historical figure he…

Harriet Walter as Brutus in the Donmar’s 2012 production of Julius Caesar

Harriet Walter’s gentle reproach to Shakespeare

7 January 2017 9:00 am

A few years ago, I fell hopelessly in love with Harriet Walter. It only lasted an hour or two: she…

Massacre of the tuna. ‘To eat a tuna is equivalent to eating a tiger’ says Jonathan Balcombe

Fish are not so cold-blooded after all

7 January 2017 9:00 am

The recent furore over a freakshow ice rink in Japan, with hapless fishes embedded beneath the skaters’ feet, was inexplicable…

Emile Zola: disgusted of Norwood

7 January 2017 9:00 am

Michael Rosen, a poet, journalist and prolific author of novels for children, has written an account of Emile Zola’s year’s…

Günter Grass, who died last year, photographed in 1981

Günter Grass: from enfant terrible to Grand Old Man

31 December 2016 9:00 am

Günter Grass was a mischief-maker, who set out to eclipse his equally brilliant fellow writers, says Rachel Seiffert. But his early novels – The Tin Drum, especially – fully deserved the limelight

The full horror of the siege of Leningrad is finally revealed

31 December 2016 9:00 am

Stand aside, Homer. I doubt whether even the author of the Iliad could have matched Alexis Peri’s account of the…

The colourful life of ‘Mad Madge’, Duchess of Newcastle

31 December 2016 9:00 am

There has never previously, I believe, been a novel about Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle, one of the 17th century’s…

The cradle of Henri IV, made from a turtle shell edged with silver, is displayed under the royal flags of France and Navarre

Falling standards and flagging spirits

31 December 2016 9:00 am

Did you know that 190 out of 200 nations in the world have either red or blue on their flags?…