Why do we write dedications in books?

28 September 2019 9:00 am

Inscriptions can tell a story of their own

It’s all Greek to me: a schoolchild’s homework on a wax tablet, Egypt, 2nd century AD

Would James Joyce have finished Ulysses without coloured pens?

11 May 2019 9:00 am

The Mesopotamians wrote on clay and the ancient Chinese on ox bones and turtle shells. In Egypt, in about 1,800…

Dear Mary: how can I stop myself procrastinating?

20 April 2019 9:00 am

Q. I am not a professional writer but on the strength of a short piece I contributed to a Festschrift…

Why catastrophising is my idea of a good time

14 April 2018 9:00 am

When, on a test of general knowledge, the highly educated score far worse than chimpanzees, university degrees may be overrated…

Taki: How I learned to write

13 January 2018 9:00 am

Gstaad  What I miss most up here in the Alps are the literary lunches conducted on the fly with writers…

‘Donald Trump? How can anyone exist and be so dumb?’

15 April 2017 8:00 am

Howard Jacobson talks about his new novel, a hypothetical exploration of the US President’s childhood

Exquisite to look at but hard to warm to: The Glass Menagerie at Duke of Yorks reviewed

11 February 2017 9:00 am

Tennessee Williams’s breakthrough play is a portrait of his dysfunctional family. A young writer, Tom (Williams’s real name), lives with…

Turning 80 is a disaster but it was a helluva party

1 October 2016 9:00 am

Although my birthday was in August, I chose the rather melancholy autumnal moment of September to celebrate it — mourn…

What makes the perfect holiday cottage

20 August 2016 9:00 am

Gadgets and fancy decor don’t matter. Good beds do

Single mums, I salute you: my grandsons are a full-time job

13 August 2016 9:00 am

At 11 p.m. I sneaked away from my boy’s wedding party to my ground-floor accommodation in the hotel to write…

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…

The trouble with dyslexia

19 September 2015 9:00 am

It’s a controversial subject – but you shouldn’t let that stop you from getting the help your child needs, says Mary Anne Hansell

Road rage and hot air balloons: Jessie Burton’s diary

1 August 2015 9:00 am

The week starts well. My debut novel, The Miniaturist, is a year old. On the anniversary of its publication, my…

The return of the fountain pen

28 March 2015 9:00 am

A real writer sticks to his nibs

Exciting new ways of not writing a novel

14 March 2015 9:00 am

Procrastination is easier in the age of Google – but less honest

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…

Peter and Ian Fleming as boys at Joyce Grove (Peter is on the left)

Ian Fleming: cruel? Selfish? Misogynistic? Nonsense, says his step-daughter

23 August 2014 9:00 am

Between the brothers Peter and Ian Fleming, Fionn Morgan wonders who was the better writer and who the better man

Jeffrey Archer’s diary: My personal trainer only smiles when I’m in pain

15 March 2014 9:00 am

The week leading up to publication is a strange time for any author. You subject yourself to doing everything from…

The views that inspire writers

31 August 2013 9:00 am

Do writers really need inspiring landscapes? Or the opposite?

Susan Hill’s diary: The joy of fountain pens, the frustration of GP appointments

18 May 2013 9:00 am

I bet you remember your first fountain pen. Mine was a Conway Stewart with marbled barrel, I had it for…

A lord of thin air

19 May 2012 11:00 am

Richard Davenport-Hines finds the author of Couples to have been a thoroughly singular man

The family plot

25 February 2012 11:00 am

Sam Leith explores the effect that certain writers’ relatives have had on their published works

A kind of tenderness

17 December 2011 8:00 pm

The son of a grocer, Anton Chekhov was born in 1860 in Taganrog, on the Sea of Azov. While studying…

S is for Speculative

3 December 2011 10:00 am

Margaret Atwood has written 20 novels, of which three (The Handmaid’s Tale, Oryx and Crake and The Year of the…

Appetites and resentments

30 July 2011 12:00 am

According to Richard M. Cook, who is Alfred Kazin’s biographer as well as the editor of his journals, the nearly 600 pages of entries assembled in this book represent only one sixth of the total mass Kazin deposited in the archives of the New York Public Library.