Life & Letters

Life & Letters: A PM’s summer reading

7 April 2012 11:00 am

One of the weaknesses of many political biographies is that they are so often all about politics. The authors either…

Life & Letters: The Creative Writing controversy

28 January 2012 5:00 pm

It came as a bit of a shock to learn from Philip Hensher’s review of Body of Work: 40 Years…

Life & Letters: Shakespeare’s women

3 December 2011 10:00 am

Gordon Bottomley, Georgian poet with an unpoetic name, wrote a play called King Lear’s Wife with which he hoped to…

Life & Letters

30 July 2011 12:00 pm

There was a photograph the other day of a Hemingway lookalike competition in Key West, Florida. Bizarre? Perhaps not. It’s 50 years since he put the barrel of a shotgun in his mouth and blew his head off, but he remains the most famous and widely recognised American writer of the 20th century, indeed of all time. Sadly, however, the lookalikes all take after the bearded bust-up Papa of his last miserable years, not the handsome young author of the great short stories where every word does its work and there are never too many of them. That Hemingway created an American type — lean, rangy, debonair — last example, Gregory Peck as the journalist in Roman Holiday.

Life & Letters: Memoirs as literature

15 January 2011 6:00 am

Laurence Sterne remarked rather a long time ago that they order these matters better in France, and happily this is still the case. Fifteen hundred teachers of literature recently protested about the choice of a set book for Terminale L du bac — the exam taken by 17-year-olds. Their concern is perhaps more political than literary. Nevertheless they denounced the choice of book as ‘a negation of our discipline’. ‘We are teachers of literature,’ they said; ‘is it our business to discuss a work of history?’


20 October 2010 12:00 am

Spectator readers respond to recent articles

The hell of working

30 June 2010 12:00 am

Allan Massie's Life & Letters

E. M. Forster and Frank Kermode

7 April 2010 1:00 pm

Life and Letters with Allan Massie

Writing of, or from, yourself

27 January 2010 1:00 pm

Allan Massie's Life and Letters

Life & Letters

4 November 2009 12:00 am

For better, for worse . . .

Surprising literary ventures

23 September 2009 12:00 am

Ermyntrude and Esmeralda, by Lytton Strachey

Life & Letters

6 May 2009 12:00 am

The Appeal of the Past

Passionate friendships

1 April 2009 12:00 am

Few would look for what academics might call ‘a gay sub-text’ in the Waverley novels.

Getting the detail right

7 January 2009 12:00 am

Evelyn Waugh told Nancy Mitford he was ‘surprised to find’ that Proust ‘was a mental defective. He has absolutely no sense of time.’

Life & Letters

10 December 2008 12:00 am

Not quite one of the masters

How to write a wrong

26 November 2008 12:00 am

‘When young lips have drunk deep of the bitter waters of Hate, Suspicion and Despair, all the Love in the world will not wholly take away that knowledge.’