Fiction

A new Ripper mystery: Why Patricia Cornwell won't stop hunting him

18 March 2017 9:00 am

Why has crime writer Patricia Cornwell spent two decades and $6 million hunting Victorian London’s most notorious killer?

Denton Welch with baroque angel at Hadlow Road, Tonbridge, 1937

The embarrassing love letters of Denton Welch

4 March 2017 9:00 am

On the Whitsun weekend of 1935 an art student called Denton Welch was knocked off his bicycle by a car…

Whatever happened to Sir George? A festive finale to an eventful year

10 December 2016 9:00 am

Many (well, several) of you asked me what happened to George, the supermarket chairman who was the anti-hero of my…

The Dwelling: a Charlie Zailer Christmas story

10 December 2016 9:00 am

Charlie Zailer wasn’t sure if she’d won or lost. On the victory side of the equation, she’d managed to avoid…

Charles Burns’s Last Look.

Dark tales, graphically told

10 December 2016 9:00 am

A woman birthing bloated speckled eggs from her supernaturally swollen womb. Sushi screaming and squirming. A skull-shaped sweet, bearing the…

The only way wasn’t Wessex

19 November 2016 9:00 am

The ten pallbearers at Thomas Hardy’s funeral in Westminster Abbey on 16 January 1928 included Kipling, Barrie, Housman, Gosse, Galsworthy,…

Sean O’Brien explores a very English form of sadomasochism

27 August 2016 9:00 am

At first glance Sean O’Brien’s new novel appears to focus on England’s devotion to the past. Even its title carries…

The internal dreamworld of René Magritte

6 August 2016 9:00 am

Surrealism was, at least initially, as much about writing as painting. A plaque on the Hotel des Grands Hommes in…

Put a spell on you: Jamie Parker as Harry in ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’

Platitudes, banalities and plotlines that punch each other in the face: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child reviewed

6 August 2016 9:00 am

Consider it commercially. So powerful is the pull of the Potter franchise that the characters could simply re-enact the plot…

After the breakthrough: Jack Kerouac photographed by John Cohen, 1959

The picture that captures why Jack Kerouac will last forever

23 July 2016 9:00 am

Why Jack Kerouac’s fleeting moment will last for ever

Above and below: From Robin Dalton’s My Relations: ‘My second cousin, Penelope Wood, is an artist, or at least hopes to be one. She is only 16, but she has done some beautiful little paintings. I have one hanging in my room now. It is a landscape and is one she did when only 12 years old’

When mother killed the plumber — and Nellie Melba came round to sing

4 June 2016 9:00 am

Here’s a pair of little books — one even littler than the other — by Robin Dalton (née Eakin), a…

A Christmas parable from the Spectator’s business editor

12 December 2015 9:00 am

  I thought you might enjoy a little parable for Christmas, so here goes… The boardroom clock said twelve minutes…

Ian Rankin’s diary: Paris, ignoring Twitter and understanding evil

21 November 2015 9:00 am

After ten days away, I spent last Friday at home alone, catching up on washing, shopping for cat food, answering…

Umberto Eco really tries our patience

7 November 2015 9:00 am

Colonna, the protagonist of Umberto Eco’s latest novel, is the first to admit he is a loser. A middle-aged literary…

‘I was facing truths I didn’t particularly want to look at’: Michael Moorcock interview

8 August 2015 9:00 am

Cult novelist Michael Moorcock on fantasy, his father, and the London he loved and lost

Suite Francaise review: what is this film playing at, when it comes to Jews in attics?

14 March 2015 9:00 am

Suite Française is being billed as a second world war romance about ‘forbidden love’ and, in this regard, it is…

Reading about your school is always a terrible idea

14 March 2015 9:00 am

Writers’ reminiscences terrify Daisy Dunn

Sebastian Faulks’s diary: My task for 2015 – get a job

14 February 2015 9:00 am

Just back from Sri Lanka, a place I first went to in 1981. It was then a dreamy island. I…

Life doesn’t care if your misery has a plot – but readers do

24 January 2015 9:00 am

Sometimes writers have to get a memoir out of their system before they can start on their great novel. Will…

Lurid & Cute is too true to its title

24 January 2015 9:00 am

One of the duties of a reviewer is to alert potential readers to the flavour and content of a book,…

A ghost story without the scary bits

24 January 2015 9:00 am

Two men walk into an ice cream parlour in Austin, Texas, order the three teenage girls working there to undress,…

Why you might not want corridors in your historical novel

1 November 2014 9:00 am

I read C.J. Sansom’s novel Dissolution on the train recently with pleasure. For an historical novel narrated in the 1530s,…

L.P. Hartley’s guide to coping with a heatwave

26 July 2014 9:00 am

Those of us who have been struggling to endure the recent heat should turn to L.P. Hartley’s classic coming-of-age novel The…

Jacqueline Wilson: 'The first book that made me cry'

12 April 2014 9:00 am

Rumer Godden’s An Episode of Sparrows, first published in 1955, focuses on the roaming children — the ‘sparrows’ — of a shabby street in bomb-torn London. When ten-year-old Lovejoy Mason finds a packet of cornflower seeds and decides to create an ‘Italian’ garden hidden in a rubble-strewn churchyard, the consequences are life-changing for all who become involved. Below is the foreword to a recent reissue of the novel (Virago Modern Classics, £7.99, Spectator Bookshop, £7.49).

From frankness to obsession - the novels of Francis King

1 March 2014 9:00 am

Paul Binding reassesses the novels of Francis King, who died last year