Lead book review

How William Hogarth made Britain

Has any artist ever had a wider impact on the world than Hogarth? He was the motivator behind the most important legislation protecting artists’ copyright, meaning that artists from ordinary backgrounds no longer had to depend on the whims of rich patrons. Like Dickens, he used his art to laugh at and root out abuses

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The sexploits of Mariella Novotny

Orgies! Gangsters! Drugs! Spies! Scandals! This biography promises much but I’m not sure it actually delivers, or not in any credible way. Searching for facts in the foetid gloop of Pizzichini’s prose feels like bog-snorkelling. The subject, Mariella Novotny, was a ‘party girl’, or prostitute, who turns up like Zelig in many 1960s scandals. She

In search of Great-Aunt Pearl’s will: a black comedy of familial strife

Lendal Press has found a brilliant novelist in Matt Cook: funny, shrewd, satirical, disturbingly and entertainingly analytical in his psychology of character. This debut novel is narrated by a precocious 14-year-old, Benjamin Carter, whose family on his father’s side is having a collective nervous breakdown. Great-Aunt Pearl has died; her derelict house, ‘a riot of

Doctor Butcher: crank, genius or son of Frankenstein?

I hated reading this book. Not only was it objectively upsetting, as any book describing monkey vivisection would be (I put my head in my hands when I realised there were photographs), it was also dispiriting, because it showed up my hypocrisy. Like so many, I would gratefully accept perfusion brain-cooling techniques if they helped