It might seem odd that Eric Ives, the acclaimed biographer of Anne Boleyn, should turn his attention to another executed Tudor queen, Lady Jane Grey.
‘How do we make Scott more popular?’ The question ran round the table and none of us had an answer.
Time was, back in the Renaissance, when barely a book would be published which did not feature some lavish hero-worship of Cicero.
It is entirely possible that nobody, not even perhaps Queen Elizabeth herself, has ever known what she was really like, so great the charm, the smiling gaze, the gloved arm, the almost wistful voice, the lilting politeness, yet so strong the nerve, so dogged the spirit, so determined the trajectory.
White-haired, red-faced, cheerfully garrulous, outgoing, pugnacious when nec- essary, portly: in his last years Senator Ted Kennedy strikingly resembled the Irish-American politicos of old, particularly his maternal grandfather, John Fitzgerald, ‘Honey Fitz,’ twice mayor of Boston.
The audiotape of Alan Clark’s Diaries — barely mentioned in this rather Dr Watsonish, sensible shoe of a biography — is well worth hearing.
In 1837 The Quarterly Review’s anonymous critic — actually, one Abraham Hayward — turned his attention to Charles Dickens, then in the first flaring of his popularity as the author of Sketches by Boz, The Pickwick Papers and Oliver Twist.
Kenneth MacMillan was once described as ‘the Francis Bacon of ballet’ — not an analogy that gets one very far, but there’s something in it.
William Golding: The Man Who Wrote Lord of the Flies, by John Carey
The Last Englishman: The Double Life of Arthur Ransome, by Roland Chambers
Making An Elephant: Writing from Within, by Graham Swift
Chaplin’s Girl, by Miranda Seymour
Love Child, by Allegra Huston
Dons don’t usually appear to much advantage in fiction.
A Fortunate Life, by Paddy Ashdown
Home to Roost and Other Peckings by Deborah Devonshire, edited by Charlotte Mosley
The Movement Reconsidered: Larkin, Amis, Gunn, Davie and their Contemporaries, edited by Zachary Leader
Frances Partridge, by Anne Chisholm
Constable in Love, by Martin Gayford
The Old Boys’ Network, by John Rae
The Other Elizabeth Taylor, by Nicola Beauman
Maurice Bowra: A Life, by Leslie Mitchell
Stanley I Presume, by Stanley Johnson
Team of Rivals, by Doris Kearns Goodwin
The Pattern in the Carpet, by Margaret Drabble
Before We Met, by Marcelle and Anthony Quinton