History

Sketch of Dr James Barry

Doctor in disguise: the secret life of James Barry

27 August 2016 9:00 am

On 25 July 1865, during a heatwave, Dr James Barry died of dysentery in his London lodgings. A charwoman came…

A toast to the glories of Provence

27 August 2016 9:00 am

Friends have a house in Provence, near the foot of Mont Ventoux. Even in a region so full of charm…

Team GB is a near-perfect post-Brexit ideal

20 August 2016 9:00 am

Throughout our holiday, reports from Rio rippled in — last thing at night, first thing in the morning — a…

How to name an aeroplane, 1916

20 August 2016 9:00 am

From ‘News of the Week’, The Spectator, 19 August 1916: The Parliamentary Air Committee having recently inhaled much ozone at…

The case against an early election, 1916

13 August 2016 9:00 am

From ‘Restless politicians’, The Spectator, 12 August 1916: Even those journals which a few months ago were most zealous for…

The true queen of the Eighties wasn't Thatcher – it was Delia, according to the Beeb

13 August 2016 9:00 am

Proof that someone has really made it as a TV historian comes, I would suggest, when they join the likes…

Sir Walter Scott and some of his most famous creations, by E.F. Skinner

Scottish literature’s long and splendid history

30 July 2016 9:00 am

There is an immediate problem for anyone producing a guide to places in Scotland with literary connections: as Walter Scott…

Is there no such thing as new science?

30 July 2016 9:00 am

Rupert Sheldrake had it coming. In A New Science of Life (1981), he argued that animals and plants have inherited…

St Mark’s Gospel is as good as EastEnders

30 July 2016 9:00 am

More brides in Britain go down the aisle to Gloria Gaynor’s ‘I Will Survive’ than to any other tune, Simon…

How Britannia got her trident

23 July 2016 9:00 am

How Britannia got her trident Parliament voted to renew Trident as Britain’s independent nuclear deterrent. But what about Britannia and…

Why all civilised people should love wasps

23 July 2016 9:00 am

All gardeners, and all readers, have reason to thank them

The Spectator’s peace terms, 1916

16 July 2016 9:00 am

From ‘Terms of peace’, The Spectator, 15 July 1916: As the man in the street might say, ‘The Allies are not…

Joseph Chamberlain, Theresa May's new lodestar

16 July 2016 9:00 am

Joseph, not Neville

Is football now bigger than rugby in Wales?

25 June 2016 8:00 am

Big game hunt Wales beat Russia 3–0 to finish above England in their group at the European Football Championships. Which…

Capability and mustard: Gatton Park

A Capability Brown jewel hiding just outside the M25

18 June 2016 9:00 am

Gatton Park is probably Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown’s least famous landscape. It is tucked away near Reigate Hill, just beyond the…

The clock is ticking: women paint luminous dials in 1932

The Radium Girls — still glowing in their coffins

11 June 2016 9:00 am

On the morning of 15 October 1927, a dim, autumn day, a group of men foregathered at the Rosedale cemetery…

1916: Sorry, President Wilson, but this is not a gentlemanly war

4 June 2016 9:00 am

From ‘President Wilson and the Lessons of History’, 2 June 1916: Emphatically it is not a war of what we…

Warning: there’s a plague of fake blue plaques

4 June 2016 9:00 am

One of the great distinctions and pleasures of British life has been devalued by cheap imitations

Live like a laird: Brodie Castle

The saddest, most romantic view in Britain

4 June 2016 9:00 am

Is there a more forlornly romantic spot in Britain than the moors east of Inverness where the Jacobite dream died?…

BBC1’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream seems deliberately designed to flush out purists

4 June 2016 9:00 am

Spoiler alerts aren’t normally required for reviews of Shakespeare — but perhaps I’d better issue one before saying that in…

Gentlest and sweetest of dogs

Beautiful, wilful, never dull: in praise of Clumber spaniels

7 May 2016 9:00 am

For the first time in more than 30 years we have no Clumber spaniel. We have had five: Henry, Judith,…

Britain’s fight with European law goes back 750 years

30 April 2016 9:00 am

It is no surprise that the laws imposed on the UK by a European parliament in Brussels should so infuriate…

Benjamin Franklin in London, with the bust of Isaac Newton on his desk

Benjamin Franklin: from man about town to man on the run

27 February 2016 9:00 am

Just who was Benjamin Franklin? Apart, that is, from journalist, statesman, diplomat, founding father of the United States, inventor of…

What to do about Syria – the view from 1916

6 February 2016 9:00 am

From ‘The future of Syria’, The Spectator, 5 February 1916: We say with all the emphasis at our command, and…

Here’s my solution to the problem of what to do with the statue of Cecil Rhodes at Oriel College

23 January 2016 9:00 am

Lobengula was the second king of the Matabele people in what is now Zimbabwe. He was also the last. Cecil…