James Evans

Britain’s obsession with boxing is as deep-rooted as its devotion to cricket

Boxing has long been a British obsession, exported successfully to North America, but never widespread on the Continent. Mainland Europeans struggled to understand that in general there was no quarrel between contestants who assaulted each other so brutally. ‘Anything that looks like fighting,’ explained one bewildered French visitor, ‘is delicious to an Englishman.’ He might

A ménage à trois that worked: Ivan Turgenev and the Viardots

If we still bemoan a world of mass tourism, the mid 19th century, Orlando Figes reminds us, is where it began. Aristocrats were accustomed in youth to prolonged, libidinous grand tours through the Continent (the gap years of their day). For the masses, though, this was the start. ‘During the autumn months,’ grumbled one British

Catfight at court

Apart from glorying in a memorable name, Lettice Knollys has chiefly been known for her connections — with her second husband, Robert Dudley, first Earl of Leicester; with the woman who was deeply in love with Dudley, Queen Elizabeth I; and with her hot-headed son who, as Earl of Essex, for a time enjoyed a