The spanish civil war

George Orwell’s unacknowledged debt to his wife Eileen

Anna Funder, the author of Stasiland, is a premier-league writer who can roll fiction, reportage, criticism and memoir into glinting prose, her sentences like handheld treasures you keep turning over, admiring their graceful contours and crafted precision. Lately she’s published little. In fact Wifedom is a book wrenched from the swirl of domestic duties that drown out women’s voices – the lifeline, in this case, being a chance find at a moment of ‘peak overload’ when she stumbles on a rare edition of George Orwell’s collected non-fiction. Eileen’s fingerprints are all over Animal Farm, a book that displays a psychological acuity Orwell lacked Diving into his essay ‘Why I Write’,

Pablo Picasso in love and war

The decade 1933-43 was one of busy erotic multi-tasking by the deft and diminutive Pablo Picasso. It took him the best part of ten years to effect a separation from the reluctant Olga Khokhlova, his ex-ballerina wife, retired injured from the Diaghilev Ballets Russes. Legal proceedings were triggered by her discovery of Picasso’s affair with Marie-Thérèse Walter (aged 17 when Picasso picked her up in 1927 outside the Galeries Lafayette). On 5 October 1935, Marie-Thérèse gave birth to Picasso’s daughter, Maria de la Concepción, later known as Maya. By then Picasso was fornicating on many fronts: with Alice Paalen, the wife of an Austrian painter, and the 49-year-old Valentine Hugo,