Lead book review

Was Jane Morris a sphinx without a secret?

William Morris was the son of a stock-broker and Jane Burden was the daughter of a stablehand. He was raised in a mansion in Walthamstow (now the William Morris Gallery) and she grew up in a hovel in Oxford. Had she not been talent-spotted by Dante Gabriel Rossetti when she was leaving the theatre one

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Abolishing slavery was no cause for smugness

When the 13 colonies of the United States declared independence in 1776, the first country to recognise the new nation was France. Other leading European powers, such as Britain and Spain, acknowledged its arrival at the Treaty of Paris, two years after a decisive victory by American forces. Yet when Haiti asserted independence in 1804,

Jarvis Cocker measures out his life in attic junk

If you were hoping for an autobiography this isn’t it. Jarvis Cocker calls it ‘an inventory’ and insists: ‘This is not a life story. It’s a loft story.’ But anyway it’s as quirky and engaging as you would expect from Cocker and also the most beautifully produced book I’ve seen in years, designed by Julian

What shape is the Treasury in now?

Don’t bring a bottle. Your chances of finding a party in full swing down those chilly corridors are close to zero. At most, you might hear the sound of a distant flute playing a courante by Lully. As Sir Howard Davies puts it in this insider’s view, which manages to be both authoritative and quite

The Victorian origins of ‘medieval’ folklore

I would guess that contemporary pagans have a love-hate relationship with Ronald Hutton. With books such as The Triumph of the Moon and Stations of the Sun, scholarly accounts of the history of modern witchcraft and the ritual year in Britain, no one writes more sensitively about their worldview. On the other hand, as an

Connecticut connections: A Little Hope, by Ethan Joella, reviewed

A Little Hope, Ethan Joella’s debut novel, is about the lives of a dozen or so ordinary people who live in smalltown East Coast America. By helicopter over Connecticut ‘you wouldn’t notice Wharton right away’. Yet the problems its inhabitants face are universal. There is the seemingly American Dream family – Greg, Freddie, Addie the

Piloting a Boeing Dreamliner can be less than dreamy

Mark Vanhoenacker dreams of my nightmares. Ever since he was a young boy, he fantasised about piloting airplanes. Ever since I was a young boy, well, let’s just say I’ve preferred to take the train. Of course I know that, statistically, flying is safe; but that knowledge doesn’t stop the unnerving sense that at some