Harry Mount

Harry Mount is editor of The Oldie and author of How England Made the English (Penguin).

The joy of an archive

It’s amazing how quickly you become ancient history. Thirty years after I left Oxford, my old college, Magdalen – alma mater of Oscar Wilde, Edward VIII and my fellow undergraduate George Osborne – sent out a request to former students. The college archivist asked for ‘Academic work. Records of student societies. College magazines and newsletters.

In defence of Eton’s Provost

The world divides into two groups. Those who liked school and those who didn’t. Sir Nicholas Coleridge, the next Provost of Eton, is firmly in the first group. In an article in the Telegraph, he has frankly admitted that he prefers people who went to Eton, as he did. He said: I am bound to say

Women are obsessed with the Romans, too

Infamy! Infamy! That was my response to the TikTok trend about ancient Rome. Women asked their partners how often they thought about the Roman Empire. Many men admitted they thought about it every day; three times a day, said one. One confessed he was obsessed with ‘aqueducts and the fact that they had concrete that

Fellowship of the Lamb: how we’re saving Tolkien’s pub

I’ve just bought Tolkien’s pub in Oxford. Well, to be more precise, I and more than 300 fellow drinkers have bought the Lamb and Flag, the 400-year-old Oxford pub where the Inklings group of writers – including J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis – drank. Like so many pubs across the country, the Lamb and Flag

How the Aeneid was nearly destroyed

According to legend, Vergil declared of himself ‘Mantua me genuit, Calabri rapuere, tenet nunc Parthenope: cecini pascua, rura, duces.’ (‘Mantua bore me, Calabria took me; now Naples holds me: I sang of pastures, fields, and leaders.’) In her rigorously researched biography, the American classicist Sarah Ruden shows that this is largely true – even if

Why some men are obsessed with the Roman Empire

Why do men think about the Roman Empire so much? That’s the subject of a new social media trend, where women ask their partners how often they think about ancient Rome.  Some men do it every day; one admitted to doing it three times a day. But why is it men who love the Empire

What’s in a school nickname?

‘Have you met Sperm?’ a friend from Westminster School asked me at a teenage party once. Sperm was a charming, pretty, confident girl but, still, I didn’t feel quite ready to use her startling nickname on our first meeting.   My own nickname – Mons, Latin for Mountain or Mount – seemed unadventurously fogeyish by comparison.

‘She had no neutral gear’: Lindy Dufferin remembered

In 1957, when my dear godmother, the Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava (1941-2020), was 16, she began her diary. The granddaughter of the Duke of Rutland and daughter of Loel Guinness, an MP, financier and Battle of Britain pilot, Lindy Dufferin had a gilded childhood. Her entries as a teen are like no other: ‘Randolph

After Putin: how nervous should we be?

37 min listen

This week: In the magazine we look at the Wagner Group’s failed coup and its implications for Putin’s reign. The Spectator’s Russia correspondent Owen Matthews examines why the Kremlin permits the existence of private armies such as Prigozhin’s Wagner Group, and joins the podcast alongside Jim Townsend, former deputy secretary of defence for European and NATO policy

The lewdness and lyricism of ancient Roman graffiti

Throw him to the lions! That’s what I thought when I saw the video of a grinning moron desecrating the walls of the Colosseum with the words ‘Ivan + Hayley 23’. He must have been referring to his girlfriend, standing by his side – and the year. It wasn’t just the fact that he’d defaced

Humza Yousaf and Anas Sarwar’s debt to private schools

Humza Yousaf, the favourite to succeed Nicola Sturgeon as Scottish First Minister, has been ticking all the right boxes in his campaign so far. Last week, he declared: ‘As your SNP First Minister, and as someone from a minority background myself, I will stand up and champion equal rights for all.’ I don’t imagine he’ll

How to get through a school reunion

T here’s no need for a mirror at school reunions. Just look all around you to see the cruel effects of anno domini on your old contemporaries – and don’t fool yourself that you alone have miraculously dodged the hair-thinning, waist-expanding horrors of middle age. Is that really the semi-divine girl who scored a modelling contract

Why I feel sorry for the super-rich

Be honest. Aren’t you a teeny-weeny bit jealous of the super-rich? Are you a little annoyed by the new Sunday Times Rich List – which showed the top ten richest people in the country now have £182 billion between them, more than three times what they had in 2010? Don’t your hackles rise on seeing

Who is David Sherborne, libel lawyer to the stars?

If you’re a celeb with a burning grievance, the hottest place in town is an unassuming, Georgian terraced house in Gray’s Inn, Holborn. Five Raymond Buildings is the number one libel set in the country. And its most prominent barrister is David Sherborne, aka ‘Orange Sherbet’ – the permatanned schmoozer with the wind-tugged, auburn tresses.

The problem with rewilding

The government has gone wild. Under new plans, just announced by Environment Secretary George Eustice, farmers and landowners in England could be paid to turn large areas of land into nature reserves and restore floodplains. In place of the old EU subsidies, farmers will be rewarded by the government for how much they care for the

How the National Trust’s new leader can restore trust

The National Trust has, thank God, appointed a new chairman. What can he do to restore trust in an organisation that has so catastrophically dumbed down and become so woefully political in recent years? Rene Olivieri is an American-born former publishing executive. He has been interim chairman of the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the RSPCA

Don’t turn Notre Dame into a ‘politically correct Disneyland’

Sacré bleu! Plans are afoot to turn Notre Dame cathedral, once it’s restored, into what some have called a ‘politically correct Disneyland’. The plans, yet to be rubber-stamped, will turn the cathedral into an ‘experimental showroom’, with confessional boxes, altars and classical sculptures replaced with modern art murals. New sound and light effects will be

Why is the National Trust waging war against its members?

The National Trust culture war has just stepped up a gear. Ahead of the Trust’s AGM on 30 October, the Trust has launched an extraordinary attack. Its target appears to be Restore Trust, a new body trying to rein in the National Trust’s political obsessions. ‘Our founders set out to protect and promote places of historic interest