My father the bigamous sociopath — by Molly Brodak

24 June 2017 9:00 am

Molly Brodak, a fair, young Polish-American born in Michigan, is a winner of the Iowa Poetry Prize. Iowa: that hotbed…

In the digital age, you might expect the paper diary to be dying – not so

10 June 2017 9:00 am

By chance on Saturday morning, I tuned into Radio 4 and heard Professor Clare Brant talking on Saturday Live about…

Before she was 40, Anne Barnard had had at least 20 serious suitors and 11 marriage proposals

Anne Barnard: a portrait of a very unusual lady

5 November 2016 9:00 am

Lady Anne Barnard is a name that means almost nothing today, but her story is a remarkable one. She defied…

Nicholas Roerich’s near-Impressionistic Himalayas, painted on a wooden panel

Jan Morris on explorers’ artistic treasures

17 September 2016 9:00 am

All alone on page 313 of this spectacular book, a tattered but heroic flag flies in a painting of an…

Portrait of Pepys, after John Hayls. The Diary for 17 March 1666 reads: ‘This day I begin to sit [for Hayls], and he will make me, I think, a very fine picture.... I sit to have it full of shadows, and do almost break my neck looking over my shoulder to make the posture for him to work by.’

The joy of an unexpurgated Pepys — without the bother of reading it oneself

22 August 2015 9:00 am

We all know about Samuel Pepys witnessing the Great Fire in his Diaries, but how many have read the definitive…

Hugo Rifkind's My Week reminds me why it's worth getting up on Saturdays

7 December 2013 9:00 am

‘Nothing’s funny any more’ has become the daily mantra of this magazine’s cartoon editor, Michael Heath. Thanks to Leveson, political…


23 March 2013 9:00 am

I learned on Wednesday that a row is exploding over freedom of the press … in Australia. Surely some mistake.…

‘I was detained as a potential suicide bomber’

23 March 2013 9:00 am

To the Lahore Literary Festival. As I cross the border from India, Pakistan is experiencing an unprecedented wave of sectarian…

Photo finish

19 May 2012 10:00 am

Christopher Isherwood kept diaries almost all his life. The first extant one dates from 1917, when he was 12, and…

Femmes du monde

4 May 2012 11:00 pm

At the end of Dreaming in French, in ‘A Note on Sources’, Alice Kaplan terms her narrative ‘this pièce montée’,…

A safe pair of hands

7 April 2012 11:00 am

Michael Spicer is too honourable to be a brilliant diarist. As he himself says, ‘I eschew tittle-tattle or small talk.’…

Charming, cold-eyed cosmopolitan

10 March 2012 10:00 am

At last a diary as penetrating on Berlin as the Goncourt brothers’ on Paris has been translated into English. The…

Time to sit and stare

11 February 2012 10:00 am

Hermitic, oneiric withdrawal from responsibilities and threats is the most effective way of alleviating the pangs of middle age, suggests…

The greatest show on earth

10 December 2011 10:45 am

Jessica Douglas-Home’s aptly titled book is based on the diaries of her grandmother Lilah Wingfield, who attended the Delhi Durbar…

Precious little warmth

14 May 2011 12:00 am

There’s something wrong with these diaries.

Kill or cure

9 April 2011 12:00 am

Frederic Raphael was the first man to use a four-letter word in The Spectator: the work of his fellow playwright Stephen King-Hall, he wrote in 1957, made him ‘puke’.

Hothouse hell

19 February 2011 12:00 am

Amy Chua, Tiger Mother and John M. Duff Professor of Law at Yale, was born in the Chinese year of the tiger, and a tiger, she says, ‘the living symbol of strength and power, generally inspires fear and respect’. She describes her own personality: ‘Hot- tempered, viper-tongued, fast-forgiving’.

A world of talking trees

19 February 2011 12:00 am

Patrick Cockburn is a foreign correspondent who has reported from war zones in Beirut, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Palace intrigue

29 January 2011 12:00 am

Plunging into the second volume of Alastair Campbell’s diaries is like opening a Samuel Richardson novel.

Pulling it off

30 October 2010 12:00 am

Asking a resting actor to review the biography of a top producer is like asking a sheep to eat a shepherd.

BOOKENDS: The Diary of a Lady

16 October 2010 10:00 am

On the evidence of Rachel Johnson’s latest book (Penguin/ Fig Tree, £16.99), Julia Budworth, the owner of The Lady, was wrong in her recent accusation that the magazine’s editor is obsessed with penises. Johnson is far too busy talking about testicles. She tells her immediate boss (Mrs Budworth’s son Ben) to ‘grow a pair of balls’. She admits later that he has ‘cojones you can see from space’. She calls one article ‘cobblers’.

Innocent mischief

16 October 2010 12:00 am

He’s been taking aim for two decades. Now Craig Brown presents his greatest hits.

Whine, whine, whine

9 October 2010 12:00 am

There came a moment, very early in my reading of the latest volume of Christopher Isherwood’s Diaries, when a spell was broken. The relevant entry, written at his beach home in Santa Monica, California, was dated 12 November 1960. And the single, throwaway notation which caused me to re-evaluate, I fear definitively, my admiration for Isherwood ran as follows: ‘Tonight I have to take the Mishimas out to supper.’