On 7 June 1914 a personal ad appeared in the Berliner Lokal-Anzeiger: ‘Single widow, 35, wishes to make the acquaintance of a respectable gentleman for the purpose of marriage.’ This wasn’t...

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As his country’s grand strategist, Mussolini’s incurable delusion was that a highly staged military parade, with the same tanks turning up again and again, was proof of actual military capabilities...

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A Great Wall to Batter Down

Adom Getachew, 21 May 2020

Priyamvada Gopal’s focus isn’t on the ways colonial subjects negotiated, resisted and reclaimed the empire, so much as on the ways in which imperial crisis awakened dissent at the metropolitan...

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You are a milksop

Ferdinand Mount, 7 May 2020

When the fighting was finally over, one cannot escape the conviction that it was primarily Cromwell’s angry will that carried on the civil unsettlement through the Commonwealth and into the Protectorate,...

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Making My Moan: Medieval Smut

Irina Dumitrescu, 7 May 2020

For much of the 20th century, academics argued that the concept of obscenity was born along with the printing press and state censorship of erotic material. One can understand where this idea came from:...

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You can’t prove I meant X

Clare Bucknell, 16 April 2020

When poets or printers weren’t clever enough with their ambiguities and disguises, the law moved in. Until the second quarter of the 19th century, those convicted of seditious libel – or obscene...

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Short Cuts: ‘Parallel Lives’

Tom Crewe, 2 April 2020

Dickens offers a ‘fine example of how not to end a marriage’. The Carlyles made their marriage a ‘spectacle we in later days can witness, with resolutions and tensions we can participate...

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In 1348

James Meek, 2 April 2020

When you aren’t going anywhere, the danger is that you might start seeing the way things are going. Just as medieval peasants wondered whether the world would end if they refused to give their lord...

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The Yorkists are currently back in fashion, something that has much to do with the excavation of what are widely believed to be the skeletal remains of Richard III in a Leicester car park eight years ago....

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How to End a Dynasty: Rehabilitating Nero

Michael Kulikowski, 19 March 2020

Three​ centuries after the death of the emperor Nero, his name had become a byword for the very worst kind of ruler. For Ausonius of Bordeaux, in his didactic poem the Caesares, Nero was a...

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Some saw the collapse of the German Empire as a decisive and traumatic break in the historical continuity of the state. Nothing, in Christopher Clark’s view, more profoundly exemplified this revolt...

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At the Corner House

Rosemary Hill, 20 February 2020

We had a rag at Monico’s. We had a rag at the Troc,And the one we had at the Berkeley gave the customers quite a shock.Then we went to the Popular, and after that – oh my!I wish...

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Inclined to Putrefaction: In Quarantine

Erin Maglaque, 20 February 2020

The plague meant that life was interrupted by barriers: the walls of the home, the waxed sheet between lay person and priest, the otherworldly beak worn by the plague doctor as he dosed patients with medicine.

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Which Face? Emigrés on the Make

Sheila Fitzpatrick, 6 February 2020

Perhaps Soviet dissent was always less remarkable as an actual political movement in the domestic context than for the magnified reflection it gained in international media.

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There​ can scarcely be a subject about which more books have been written than the Second World War, and yet surprisingly few of them risk a synthesis of the whole. Many writers refer to the war...

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Antigone on Your Knee

Terry Eagleton, 6 February 2020

Elated by the triumph of the indomitable human spirit, we leave the theatre chastened and consoled rather than ready to jump off a cliff. Nothing, it seems, is more life-affirming than watching a bunch...

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The​ problem presented by Troy: Myth and Reality at the British Museum is not so much the myth as the reality (until 8 March). Troy was a tiny city in what is now the northwestern corner of...

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Too Much for One Man: Kaiser Karl V

Thomas Penn, 23 January 2020

As he lay on his deathbed at Yuste, Charles seemed to have found an unaccustomed ease: dying monarchs were more often to be found scrabbling remorsefully to make peace with their subjects and their maker....

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