Lead book review

A true original

Leonora Carrington was strikingly beautiful with ‘the personality of a headstrong and hypersensitive horse’ (according to her friend and patron Edward James); and she fled from her family, renouncing a life of privilege and ease to pursue her calling as an artist. Joanna Moorhead deplores the fact that she is ‘not much more than a

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Neither green nor pleasant

The old coaching inn on the green. The Sunday morning toll of church bells. The ducklings paddling on the pond. The soft sound of leather against willow. Nothing, absolutely nothing, defines England’s idea of itself more than the sleepy rural village. World events can shake our island nation. Population growth can swell our cities. Who

No end in sight

Are you a deathist? A deathist is someone who accepts the fact of death, who thinks the ongoing massacre of us all by ageing is not a scandal. A deathist even insists that death is valuable: that the only thing that gives life meaning is the fact that it ends — an idea not necessarily

Bones of contention | 12 April 2017

A few years ago, a group of Native American leaders drove 12 hours from Oklahoma to Denver Museum of Nature and Science, a natural history museum in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, to collect 26 sets of human remains. When Chip Colwell, the museum’s senior curator of anthropology, explained to them that, though the remains

Romancing the stones

If Britain’s prehistoric monuments have had a magnetic attraction for generations of artists, it is perhaps because they have long been seen as works of art themselves. ‘The whole temple of Avebury may be consider’d as a picture’, enthused the antiquary William Stukeley in 1743, while ‘my God how sculptural’ was Barbara Hepworth’s response to

Too young to die

In the north transept of Westminster Abbey, there is a memorial by Joseph Nollekens to three British captains killed at the Battle of the Saintes. It is hard to imagine that many visitors notice it, but when the news of the battle reached London from the West Indies in May 1782, it inspired the same

An eye for sensationalism

According to Private Eye, executives at the Daily Mail were alarmed by the impending publication of Adrian Addison’s new history of the paper. They expected an onslaught. So their hearts must have sunk when they saw the cover of Mail Men. Stephen Fry, who may hate the Mail more than anyone alive, pronounces it ‘a

A gaping hole in the week

This is a gem of a book for Radio 4 lovers, particularly those of us who work out which day of the week it is by who’s speaking on the station at 9.02 a.m. Published the week that Midweek was abolished for ever, it is Libby Purves’s story of the programme she presented for 33