Lead book review

The wit, wisdom and womanising of Constant Lambert

We owe Constant Lambert (1905–1951) a huge amount, and the flashes of brilliance that survive from his short life only suggest the energy with which he established the possibilities for English culture. What we remember about this extraordinary man are some delightful pieces of music, especially The Rio Grande; the funniest and most cultivated book

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The man who went to Hell and back – for a laugh

Since the passing of Auberon Waugh, there haven’t been many really successful right-wing comedians. The Mayor of London is one. Another is the American journalist and wit P.J. O’Rourke. The alliterative title of The Baby Boom, his 20th book, essentially sums up its author’s style, his childlike boisterousness, his resonant infantilism. Its scarcely less suitable

The fairytale life of Hans Christian Andersen

It has long been my habit, when approaching a new biography, to read the account of the subject’s childhood first, then jump to the deathbed, before settling down to the main narrative between. It was rather disconcerting, therefore, to find that Paul Binding’s life of Hans Christian Andersen eschews the deathbed and ends with the

The derring-do that created Flashman

I met George Macdonald Fraser when he was the features editor of the Glasgow Herald. He was a very good newspaperman on what was a fine daily paper. James Holburn was the editor, Reggie Byers his deputy, Chris Small the literary editor, all admirable and amiable journalists. When Holburn retired, Fraser was for a while