Lucy Hugheshallett

How the Romantics ruined lives

It is perhaps the most celebrated house-party in the history of literary tittle-tattle: a two-house-party to be precise. Byron and his doctor/companion/whipping-boy John Polidori in the grand Villa Diodati overlooking Lake Geneva. The Shelleys (Percy and Mary) and Mary’s stepsister Claire Clairmont a short walk away in the modest Maison Chapuis. The cat’s cradle of

Raining on their parade

Julius Caesar’s deputy, Cleopatra’s second lover, Marcus Antonius is the perennial supporting act. Julius Caesar’s deputy, Cleopatra’s second lover, Marcus Antonius is the perennial supporting act. In books about Caesar (like Adrian Goldsworthy’s recent biography) or about Cleopatra (mine among them), he appears as a partner, in the ballet-dancing sense of a burly chap whose

Shock and awe | 16 January 2010

Luisa Casati was a virtuosa in the art of making a spectacle of herself. Born in 1881, she inherited an immense fortune and spent it all (she died destitute) on making herself a ‘living work of art’. She had very little conversation. ‘Wisely, she seldom uttered’, noted Harold Acton. Instead she posed, and the pictures

Slippery slopes

Italy’s participation in the first world war was so far from being inevitable that it took nearly nine months for the country’s government to decide on which side they should fight. In the first week of August 1914, Italian troops were massed close to the French border, ready to invade, and General Cadorna was drawing

Sons and discoveries

Listing page content here ‘Who are we? Where are we going? Has public provision been a success?’ These are the kind of ‘weighty, unanswerable’ questions, Jeremy Harding asks himself as he mooches around west London housing estates in search of the mother who gave him up for adoption 50-odd years ago. The questions in Jonathan

When men were blokes

Ever since David Steen joined Picture Post at the age of 15 he’s been photographing celebrities. This handsome collection of male portraits shows his range. At one end of the spectrum is the cheesy picture of Steven Spielberg with his foot in the mouth of an inflatable rubber shark. At the other, there is the

Is your journey really necessary?

Pen Hadow goes to the North Pole quite often. For a price he’ll take you there too. When not under- taking one of his private expeditions he acts as a guide for his own travel company. For those with the time and cash and courage he can organise an arduous months-long trek. If you have

Voices in the next room

After his father died Blake Morrison wrote an emotive and bravely candid book about him, from which Morrison pŒre emerges as an ebulliently attractive man, but also as a domineering father and an unfaithful husband. Morrison showed the manuscript to his mother. She made no objections, and only one request – that he omit the