Richard Sorge’s Fate

Tariq Ali, 19 November 2019

Sorge went to Berlin in May 1933 and spent the next three months fulfilling the tasks set for him. He joined the Nazi Party, obtained a German passport – his profession declared as ‘journalist’...

Read More

Writing about Clothes

Lisa Cohen, 7 November 2019

‘About​ clothes, it’s awful,’ the protagonist thinks in Jean Rhys’s novel Voyage in the Dark (1934). Everything makes you want pretty clothes like hell. People laugh at...

Read More

Hitler in the Head

Christopher Clark, 7 November 2019

Whether Hitler gets into our minds, or we mislay something of our own inside his, it’s clear that this strange and hateful man, who has been dead for 74 years, is still messing with our heads.

Read More

Europe or America?

Ian Gilmour, 7 November 2019

When his book, ‘This Blessed Plot’, came out in 1998, Hugo Young said that it was ‘the story of fifty years in which Britain struggled to reconcile the past she could not forget...

Read More

Rewriting ‘Pericles’

Adam Smyth, 24 October 2019

Ben Jonson’s​ comedy The New Inn (1629) was, by all accounts, a theatrical disaster: ‘negligently played’ at the Blackfriars Theatre, according to its title page, ‘and...

Read More

Johnson and Boswell’s Club

Thomas Keymer, 10 October 2019

The Turk’s Head​ isn’t the kind of name you’d choose for a pub these days, though there’s still one in Wapping, and another in Twickenham. The famous Turk’s Head...

Read More

Roman Fever

Sarah Perry, 26 September 2019

Inevitably, the mosquito became connected with ideas of dangerous female agency. ‘The female mosquito is most emphatically a shrieking suffragette,’ a contributor to the San Francisco Chronicle...

Read More

Masada

Josephine Quinn, 12 September 2019

Highway​ 90 follows the Great Rift Valley from Jerusalem down to Masada alongside what’s left of the Dead Sea, making it the lowest road on earth. On the right, sheer cliffs hide the...

Read More

Neoliberalism

Alexander Zevin, 15 August 2019

Neoliberalism​ is often conceived as a system of self-regulating markets, shrunken states and crudely rational individuals. Early neoliberals, however, didn’t believe in markets’...

Read More

The Victorian Restaurant Scene

Bee Wilson, 15 August 2019

In​ 1901, London was still the largest city in the world. It had a population of six and a half million, two million more than New York and five million more than Tokyo. One of the...

Read More

Frederick Douglass

Colin Grant, 1 August 2019

One​ of the peace walls near the Falls Road in Belfast is decorated with a mural featuring several famous figures – among them, Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King. At its...

Read More

Poor Lore

Norma Clarke, 1 August 2019

Frances Soundy​ lived in Battersea. She had several children and a husband who periodically disappeared. Off and on, throughout the 1820s, she wrote to the church wardens and overseers of the...

Read More

Paris Syndrome

Sheila Fitzpatrick, 1 August 2019

Paris can be a dangerous place to visit. The Japanese are said to be particularly vulnerable to the medically recognised condition called ‘Paris syndrome’, which inflicts anxiety, depersonalisation...

Read More

Vietnam

Chris Mullin, 18 July 2019

The Chinese​ occupied Vietnam for the best part of a thousand years, up to the tenth century. They attacked it again in 1979. The Mongols launched three invasions in the 13th century. The...

Read More

Nose, no nose

Clare Bucknell, 18 July 2019

‘When I came to Louisa’s, I felt myself stout and well, and most courageously did I plunge into the fount of love, and had vast pleasure,’ James Boswell wrote in his diary on a winter’s...

Read More

Magical Thinking in 1918

Malcolm Gaskill, 4 July 2019

In​ 2001 an architect called Danny Sullivan claimed to have found cine film of an angel while rooting around in a Monmouth junk shop. This was, unsurprisingly, a hoax, as were claims that...

Read More

Shining Path

Tony Wood, 4 July 2019

On 26 December​ 1980, residents of Lima woke to a gruesome, incongruous sight: dead dogs had been strung up from lampposts in the city centre, some bearing pieces of cloth scrawled with the...

Read More

Civility Held Sway

John Gallagher, 4 July 2019

Civility​ as a concept, or an ideal, didn’t take hold in England until the 16th century – when the national mood, insofar as we can speak of one, was a mixture of bravado and...

Read More