Biography

Spiv on a grand scale

11 September 2010 12:00 am

Apart from his enormous wealth, the only interesting thing about Paul Raymond was his dishonesty, which was relentless and comprehensive, and always gave the game away.

Family favourites

11 September 2010 12:00 am

Because Deborah Devonshire’s journalism has nearly always made me laugh, and because she seems like one of the jollier aunts in P. G. Wodehouse — an Aunt Dahlia, not an Aunt Agatha — I had expected her memoirs to provide chuckles on every page.

Land of lost content

11 September 2010 12:00 am

Tom Frayn, says his son Michael in this admirable memoir, trod lightly upon the earth.

Beating his demons

11 September 2010 12:00 am

Some of us are still startled that Wallace Stevens was 44 when he published Harmonium.

Ruling the planet

4 September 2010 12:00 am

‘Facebook’, says the excitable author of this hero-gram, ‘may be the fastest-growing company of any type in history.’

The motherland’s tight embrace

4 September 2010 12:00 am

At nursery school, along with her warm milk, little Lena Gorokhova imbibed the essence of survival in the post-war Soviet Union.

The laird and his legend

28 August 2010 12:00 am

‘Stuart Kelly’ the author’s note declares, ‘was born and brought up in the Scottish Borders.’ Not so, as he tells us; he was born in Falkirk, which is in central Scotland, and came to the Borders as a child.

Kin, but less than kind

28 August 2010 12:00 am

About 100 years ago two brothers settled in the same small English town and raised 12 children.

Young man on the make

28 August 2010 12:00 am

We are not going to agree about Bruce Chatwin.

Way out west

21 August 2010 12:00 am

This year America celebrates the cent-enary of Mark Twain’s death.

Jail birds

14 August 2010 12:00 am

Next to his photographs of 40 women who have spent time in Low Newton prison, Adrian Clarke has juxtaposed short accounts from each of how she got there.

Doing what it says on the tin

14 August 2010 12:00 am

If you want to know all about Andy Warhol, just look at the surface: of my paintings and films and me, and there I am.

Dramatic asides

14 August 2010 12:00 am

‘I Scribble, therefore I am’: this Cartesian quip is typical of Simon Schama, as is the comprehensive subtitle: ‘Writings on Ice Cream, Obama, Churchill and My Mother,’ among other topics, of course.

Girls from the golden West

14 August 2010 12:00 am

Who was the first American to marry an English duke? Most students of the peerage would say it was Consuelo Yzagna who married the eldest son of the Duke of Manchester in 1876.

Raining on their parade

7 August 2010 12:00 am

Julius Caesar’s deputy, Cleopatra’s second lover, Marcus Antonius is the perennial supporting act.

The invisible man

31 July 2010 12:00 am

Nicklaus Thomas-Symonds’s study of Clement Attlee is a specimen of that now relatively rare but still far from endangered species, the ‘political’ biography.

No body in the library

24 July 2010 12:00 am

The opening paragraph of Duchess of Death’s fourth chapter, in which its subject is about to have her first whodunit published, begins thus:

Tried and tested

24 July 2010 12:00 am

In June 1964, when Nelson Mandela was sentenced to life imprisonment for acts of sabotage against the apartheid government of South Africa, he was, as photographs reveal, a burly, blackhaired man, with a handsome, pugnacious grin.

Caught in the crossfire

24 July 2010 12:00 am

Maqbool Sheikh dreaded hearing a knock at the door of his home.

The perfect stranger

17 July 2010 12:00 am

There are an estimated 417,000 people in the UK suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and double that number suffering from other forms of dementia.

The lure of adventure

7 July 2010 12:00 am

A few minutes’ walk from Paddington Station is a drinking den and restaurant called the Frontline Club, a members’ club for foreign correspondents.

A cousin across the water

7 July 2010 12:00 am

Though he was to live at Castle Leslie in Co. Monaghan, Sir John Randalph (later Shane) Leslie, cousin of Winston Churchill, was born at Stratford House, London, in 1885 though baptised at Glaslough with Lord Randolph Churchill as godfather.

Hunting and working

7 July 2010 12:00 am

Why are scholars so prone to melancholy? According to the expert, Robert Burton of Christ Church, it is because ‘they live a sedentary, solitary life...

Learning to live with the bomb

7 July 2010 12:00 am

In the autumn of 1962, not more than a couple of weeks after the Cuban missile crisis and with our British fleet of nuclear-armed V-bombers still on high alert, a man called Gervase Cowell, then working in our Moscow embassy, received a phone call.

A flammable individual

30 June 2010 12:00 am

On the night of 18 October 1969, thieves broke into the Oratory of San Lorenzo, Palermo, and removed Caravaggio’s Nativity.