Book review – memoir

The modern celebrity silk: Geoffrey Robertson ticks all the boxes

30 June 2018 9:00 am

What makes a barrister famous? At one time, many of the best advocates were also prominent politicians, whose day job…

Steven Spurrier at the launch of Wine — A Way of Life. Credit Getty Images

How Steven Spurrier enraged the French — and was never forgiven

23 June 2018 9:00 am

Fine wine rarely makes it into the public consciousness, but one event in 1976 has proved of perennial interest: the…

Sally Bayley. Credit: Alice Sholto-Douglas

Dickens and Agatha Christie made my childhood bearable

23 June 2018 9:00 am

Girl with Dove is a memoir by Sally Bayley, a writer who teaches at Oxford University, of growing up in…

Bactrian camels in the Khongoryn Els sand dunes of the Gobi Desert

The Empty Quarter is a great refuge for lonely hearts

2 June 2018 9:00 am

When William Atkins and his girlfriend parted, he set off to explore eight of the world’s fieriest deserts, from Oman to the Taklamakan

: Clancy Sigal and Doris Lessing, sitting together on a London bus

‘Steer clear of that cave boy, James Dean, and grease ball, Elvis Presley’

2 June 2018 9:00 am

Lucky bastard. Such are the words that come constantly to mind while you’re reading Clancy Sigal’s two volumes of posthumously…

Antony Sher: self-portrait as King Lear

Sher genius: Antony Sher’s account of playing King Lear

2 June 2018 9:00 am

Why are rehearsal diaries so compelling? One approaches them with cynicism and then ends up reading with racing heart through…

The My Lai Massacre , exposed by Seymour Hersh. Credit: Getty Images

How I exposed the truth about My Lai

2 June 2018 9:00 am

The humble title of Seymour Hersh’s memoir is somewhat at odds with the tone of the book. He says the…

Drystone walling in the Brecon Beacons, Wales

My brilliant career hits the drystone wall

26 May 2018 9:00 am

We all tell stories about ourselves, every one of us. ‘I’m a useless cook.’ ‘Spiders don’t scare me.’ Not all…

An intense conversation about life, love and writing with Deborah Levy

28 April 2018 9:00 am

Deborah Levy draws her epigraph for The Cost of Living from Marguerite Duras’s Practicalities: ‘You’re always more unreal to yourself…

How I singlehandedly kept the Will Self industry going

28 April 2018 9:00 am

In 1994, Matthew De Abaitua, an aspiring writer and student on East Anglia’s Creative Writing MA, applies for a job…

Rose Tremain’s account of a loveless childhood leaves one aching for more

14 April 2018 9:00 am

1991, the Harbourfront Literary Festival in Toronto. The novelist Rose Tremain and the South African writer Carolyn Slaughter are enjoying…

Portrait of the reader as devoted book-owner: Alberto Manguel in happier days, at home in his library in France

Packing away my 35,000 books was like writing my own obituary

14 April 2018 9:00 am

Alberto Manguel is a kind of global Reader Laureate: he is reading’s champion, its keenest student and most zealous proselytiser,…

Free as a bird: the beauty and exhilaration of gliding

7 April 2018 9:00 am

Over the years I’ve been in touch with a number of middle-aged professionals who, despite the success they’ve found in…

Eilean Donan Castle on Skye, with peat bog and marsh in the foreground

For peat’s sake: Britain’s bogs and moorland in crisis

7 April 2018 9:00 am

In 2008, the Scottish poet Kathleen Jamie characterised the typical exponent of modern nature writing as ‘the lone enraptured male’.…

Meeting the last Cuban fisherman to have known Ernest Hemingway

7 April 2018 9:00 am

In Havana, one week before President Obama unthawed half a century of cold relations with Cuba, I talked to the…

Jacques Lacan: shrink from hell or the greatest psychoanalyst since Freud?

The selfish shrink: life with Jacques Lacan

7 April 2018 9:00 am

Peyrot, the chef at Le Vivarois in Paris, had a fascinating theory of how one of his regulars, the otherwise…

Lucy Mangan has enough comic energy to power the National Grid

17 March 2018 9:00 am

After three hot-water-bottle-warmed evenings of highly satisfying bedtime reading, I can confirm that, even in a world where Francis Spufford’s…

Why I now find listening to Beethoven nauseating

10 March 2018 9:00 am

Stephen Bernard has led an institutionalised life. Behind the doors of the church presbytery, at public school, on hospital wards…

The miseries of diplomatic life: heat, bedbugs and endless cocktail parties

10 March 2018 9:00 am

The arrival at a new foreign posting for a junior diplomat’s wife in the first half of the last century…

Saul Bellow (centre): ‘He said he felt like Valjean, pursued by Inspector Javert through the sewers of Paris,’ says James Atlas. Above and left: Graham Greene and Anthony Powell were both better biographers than biographees

Biography is a thoroughly reprehensible genre

3 March 2018 9:00 am

Why do biographers insist on making neat patterns of their subjects’ lives? Roger Lewis finds it rigid, invasive and wrong

Be a spy like me, Charlotte Bingham’s father advises

3 March 2018 9:00 am

That there’s a direct correlation between sex and spying is probably Ian Fleming’s fault. Hard to think of Bond without…

What does it feel like to have Alzheimer’s? A sufferer provides a unique insight

10 February 2018 9:00 am

Wendy Mitchell was diagnosed with dementia at the age of 58, three years ago. At the time, she was a…

Françoise Frankel: a spirited woman on the run in Occupied France

27 January 2018 9:00 am

Françoise Frenkel was a Polish Jew, who adored books and spent much of her early life studying and working in…

Mussolini’s fall from grace

11 November 2017 9:00 am

These days it is fashionable to claim Mussolini as a fundamentally decent fellow led astray by an opportunist alliance with…

The bee orchid, by Franz Andreas Bauer. Its sex life is far beyond the dreams of most teenage boys

Will orchid mania be the next gap year phenomenon?

21 October 2017 9:00 am

Who would want to read a whole book about a teenage boy’s gap year? When most 18-year-olds take time off…