Fed up with Ibiza: Sybille Bedford

Jenny Turner, 1 April 2021

You might start reading her for the food and the celebrity gossip, but you reread for the thrilling materiality, ‘concrete and fastidious’, as she herself once suggested, of her prose:...

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Pissing on Pedestrians: A Great Unravelling

Owen Bennett-Jones, 1 April 2021

The only way to persuade Robert Max­well that a story about his latest incon­sequential meeting with an East European leader shouldn’t run in the Mirror was to suggest it was too important...

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I would like to read a different biography of Sylvia Pankhurst, one that is less hagiographic but more humane. Surely it is possible to acknowledge this remarkable woman’s foresight, determination,...

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On the Barone

John Foot, 4 March 2021

In September​ the Uruguayan footballer Luis Suárez turned up at the Università per Stranieri in Perugia to take an Italian test. This tough language exam, a requirement for anybody...

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The Ramsey Effect

Kieran Setiya, 18 February 2021

Picture,​ if you can, a single person with the talents of Keats, Schubert and Seurat: an inspired poet, a prodigious composer, a revolutionary painter, a figure of unlimited promise who died, like...

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Diary: I was a Child Liberationist

Lorna Finlayson, 18 February 2021

I’d made a decision not to tell anybody I was leaving and waited until the end of the autumn term so that nobody would know what I’d done until the new year. It would be my own secret, daunting...

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Miss Skippit

Andrew O’Hagan, 18 February 2021

Mary-Kay Wilmers taught a generation of us that the job was to have a point of view. Vagueness wasn’t a useful quality, and grand declarations are not the same as good writing. If the paper didn’t...

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Diary: Ethiopia’s Long War

Maaza Mengiste, 4 February 2021

What do we do with all that history – all that rage, all these memories? A young soldier with a slender face. Bruised and beaten men in the back of a truck. The site of a prison, a plaque on a wall....

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A Funny Feeling: Larkin and My Father

David Runciman, 4 February 2021

I was deeply struck by a feeling that the step from the half-life my father had been leading to no life at all was less significant than the earlier step from his full life to his bedbound one. Dying did...

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In this febrile yet curiously static environment of competing claims on our subjecthood and sympathy, we could all do with bearing in mind Wollstonecraft’s distinction between real and affected sentiment....

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Diary: At the Temple

Long Ling, 21 January 2021

Everyone around me in the temple was concentrating on their own business, so I copied them and kowtowed three times to the statue of the God of Fortune. I organ­ised my thoughts into a prayer chant,...

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Tabitha Lasley finds out more and more about the oil industry and about masculinity, while mourning one man. She is a woman looking at men looking at women dealing with men.

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News from No One

Jane Miller, 21 January 2021

I’ve​ had several official letters recently (including two in one week) telling me to look out because I’m a ‘clinically extremely vulnerable person’. They’re signed...

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The Head in the Shed: Reading Bones

Gavin Francis, 21 January 2021

When the police bring Sue Black a bag of bones and ask what she makes of them she starts out with four questions: Are they human? Are they of forensic interest? Who was this person? Do they tell us anything...

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Diary: A Round of Applause

Alan Bennett, 7 January 2021

28 April. The most one can hope from a reader is that he or she should think: ‘Here is somebody who knows what it is like to be me.’ It’s not what E.M. Forster meant by ‘only connect,’...

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The Railway Hobby

Ian Jack, 7 January 2021

A bright winter’s day, the journey south across the Thames on the top deck of a number 4 bus, the walk along Lower Marsh towards the great naval guns at the Imperial War Museum’s entrance....

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Magic Beans, Baby

David Runciman, 7 January 2021

Like Jerry Seinfeld and LeBron James, Obama exemplifies what can be done by super-talented individuals in a winner-take-all world. He won and did indeed take it all, including the $65 million he and Michelle...

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Diary: Painting in the Dark

Celia Paul, 17 December 2020

Perhaps the great women artists are noct­urnal creatures who prefer to create freely in the darkness. In this way, too, they avoid being referred to as ‘one of these neurotics’. Perhaps...

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