Olivia Cole

On the Yeats trail in Galway

The Go Galway bus from Dublin sounds an unlikely pleasure, but it is both comfortable and punctual. There is free Wi-Fi if you want it, but it would be criminal to do anything other than gawp at the view. Two and a half hours pass quickly when you are travelling at sunset, passing between rain

‘Artmaking is a drug’ – interview with poet Paul Muldoon

A fellow festival-goer at the recent Calabash literary festival in Treasure Beach, Jamaica, enjoyed chatting to a gentle Irish poet called Paul. He told her he ‘dabbled’ in poetry, and she was seconds from asking if he was planning on reading any of his work at the open-mike session. When Paul Muldoon, the poet in

Editor’s letter

Ahead of the Scottish referendum in September, and as the country prepares for the Commonwealth Games, Spectator Life caught up with a new generation of fine Scottish actors who seem destined for Hollywood, from Joanna Vanderham, star of The Paradise, to Laura Fraser of Breaking Bad and Richard Madden and Rose Leslie, who you may recognise

Introducing Spectator Life Spring 2014

From Homeland to Game of Thrones and House of Cards, it’s an observation often made that we’re in a golden age of television. If there’s a TV renaissance afoot, and a renewed appreciation of what good writing, subtle character development and long form drama can achieve on a small screen, David Hare’s Johnny Worricker trilogy,

Editor’s letter

The late Anthony Minghella described our cover star, Ralph Fiennes, as a ‘held, slightly unknowable person’. Though I’ve long admired his work, I got to know him a little bit better when we met to talk about The Invisible Woman, his unforgettable account of Dickens’s secret life with his mistress Ellen Ternan. Fiennes both stars

Introducing Spectator Life Summer 2013

From fashion to festivals, Life’s summer issue arrives with your Spectator this week. On our cover this time is the film star Diane Kruger — Helen in Troy, and a scene-stealer in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds. A woman whose talent and sense of style I have long admired, when I met her in New York,

Celebrating extremes

Robert Mapplethorpe: A Season in Hell Alison Jacques Gallery, 16-18 Berners Street, London W1, until 21 November Robert Mapplethorpe’s 1985 self-portrait with little devil’s horns is one of the most instantly recognisable self-portraits in modern photography. Short-haired and cherubically handsome, his face turns back to the camera, an inappropriately appealing daemon, complete with a ‘devil-be-damned’

The Spectator’s 40 Poems You Should Know

That poetry is the “new rock ‘n’ roll” is an oft-uttered sentiment. But as its power to transport, provoke, console and seduce has been a constant for thousands of years now, I prefer to regard it as the old rock ‘n’ roll. The original, if you will… And it’s in this spirit that we’ve prepared

Is Oxford voting for a celebrity or a poet?

People who wouldn’t dream of having anything so trashy as Grazia on the coffee table, who claim not to be the slightest bit interested in the state of Brad and Angelina’s marriage, are often gripped by the seamy, rowdy lives of our poets and writers. They’re a source of glamour and gossip for more high-minded

How to put the nation’s pupils off great art for ever

‘Bathers at Asnières’ is a dreamily double-edged impressionist painting: an idyll as tricksy as the tiny dots, instead of brushstrokes, that Seurat used to paint. Young Parisian workers are stretched out like cats in the sun, or swimming in water so cool that you can almost feel it, and yet in the background the chimneys

Meet the new eco-toffs: Champagne Swampies

Olivia Cole says that the row over Heathrow’s third runway has revealed that despite the credit crunch there is a resilient class of celebrities and toffs with expensive green tastes Do you remember Champagne Socialists? Well, there’s a new version of that old clique, with the same curious mix of self-importance and self-indulgence but with

Dancing through danger

Olivia Cole on Victoria Hislop’s second novel Married to a permanently well-lunched Englishman, Sonia Cameron, the half-Spanish heroine of Victoria Hislop’s second novel The Return, seeks escapism — first in a local dance class (to which she becomes unexpectedly addicted) and, more compellingly, in a chapter of her family history by which she becomes distracted

All at sea in Shanghai

The conquering white male, guiltily plundering, seduced by exoticism and abundance but never quite sure that he’s not just the clueless foreigner being taken for a ride: so we have Tony Parson’s pugnacious hero Bill, clad in his designer suit. He is the ambitious corporate lawyer, billing for every hour he breathes, hoping to ‘make

Monsters and others

Olivia Cole ‘Make somebody up’ was the instruction to the 23 contributors to Zadie Smith’s short-story anthology The Book of Other People, published to benefit the Brooklyn children’s writing charity, 826 NYC, founded by Dave Eggers. While that might seem about as radical a command as telling screenwriters to use dialogue, the only rule being

A quartet of debutantes

The Great Stinkby Clare ClarkPenguin, £12.99, pp. 358, ISBN 0670915300 The Second Life of Samuel Tyneby Esi EdugyanVirago, £10.99, pp. 278, ISBN 1844081060 The Icarus Girlby Helen OyeyemiBloomsbury, £16.99, pp. 320, ISBN 0747575487 With an aversion to ghost stories I was surprised to find myself greatly moved by Strangers. Like the author, Taichi Yamada, Haidi