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Why I love this feminist who hit nuns and shot Andy Warhol

29 September 2014 15:44

Just as I was feeling frustrated about the lack of robust books on feminism I spot a real corker: Valerie Solanas: The Defiant Life of the Woman Who Wrote SCUM… Continue reading

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"William Archibald Spooner Vanity Fair 1898-04-21" by Leslie Ward - Published in Vanity Fair, 21 April 1898, as "Men of the Day" Number 711.Downloaded from http://www.antiquemapsandprints.com/scansj/j-20476.jpg. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Spectator competition: when prose and poetry meet (plus: verse in the manner of Revd W.A. Spooner)

27 September 2014 9:30

The challenge to pick a well-known poem and write a short story with the same title using the poem’s opening and closing lines to begin and end the piece drew… Continue reading

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Akram Khan and Sylvie Guillem in 'Sacred Monsters'. Photo:  Sadler's Wells

We have a new dance critic – and she’s not happy with The Arts Council

26 September 2014 14:51

Hello. I recognize some of you. We’ve bumped against each other in Sadler’s Wells or Covent Garden or the Birmingham Hippodrome. I look forward to meeting you below the line… Continue reading

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Deborah Devonshire (Picture: National Portrait Gallery)

Deborah Devonshire: JFK’s friend, Hitler’s antagonist, The Spectator’s columnist

25 September 2014 18:34

The lives of the Mitford Sisters have riveted, and repelled, anglophiles since the thirties. Diana Mitford once wrote, ‘I must admit “the Mitfords” would madden ME if I didn’t chance… Continue reading

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Photo: BBC

Good riddance to rhetoric

25 September 2014 16:32

Autumn is here, and so the political classes celebrate the return of Any Questions and Question Time. (The Dimbleby is the only species that hibernates during the summer.) This year,… Continue reading

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The Disappearance of Michel Houellebecq: French chin-stroking at its very best

23 September 2014 14:59

Just when you thought Bernard-Henri Lévy had taken a chin-stroking national stereotype as far as it could possibly go, you open Le Monde‘s business pages and see this. Bernard Maris,… Continue reading

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Brett Bailey's Exhibit B

By all means protest against Exhibit B, but do not withdraw it

23 September 2014 13:20

Having met with an equal mix of critical acclaim and revulsion at the Edinburgh Festival, Brett Bailey’s Exhibit B – based on the ‘human zoos’ and ethnographic displays of the… Continue reading

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Spectator competition: poets’ selfies (plus: liven up something mundane with a dose of magic realism)

21 September 2014 15:09

The latest challenge, to compose a poet’s elegy for him or herself, took you down a path trod by poor Chidiock Tichborne. He wrote his own elegy, the poignant ‘Tichborne’s… Continue reading

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Anna Nicole is a masterpiece

20 September 2014 19:18

It isn’t often that you can say you’ve seen an opera not only of but about our times. But Anna Nicole – which I saw Thursday night at the Royal Opera… Continue reading

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The John Cantlie video shows Islamic State have taken a leaf out of Vice’s book

18 September 2014 16:58

Islamic State (IS) have just released a new video that features the journalist John Cantlie. Until now, his whereabouts in Syria were unknown, but it now looks as if he has… Continue reading

11 Comments
Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images

In praise of Den-zel

18 September 2014 13:21

His Christian name is only two syllables, with the stress (following the African-American pronunciation) on the second. Two syllables that are a byword for urbane cool. A mellifluous shibboleth – the… Continue reading

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Alasdair Gray: 'You can only learn to govern yourself by doing it'

A No vote will create a schism between the voters of Scotland and its artists and writers

18 September 2014 10:37

With the Scottish independence referendum drawing closer, two Newsweek Europe magazine correspondents and friends – Finlay Young (Scotsman), and Simon Akam (Englishman) – travelled the length of the United Kingdom… Continue reading

24 Comments
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Let me introduce you to ‘sick chick lit’

17 September 2014 18:27

Chick lit has its place. On long-haul flights, for example, when you’re a bit pissed and bored with the films on offer, and all you wanted is some literary fast food.… Continue reading

5 Comments
Photo: Clementine Keith-Roach

Tom Cruise deserves our support and pity

16 September 2014 18:26

These are your lives. Yard Theatre, until 4 October Tom Cruise. That’s the big offer from a newish venue, the Yard Theatre, lurking on the fringes of Hackney Wick. The… Continue reading

10 Comments
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Ever wondered what goes on in those green sheds you see around London?

16 September 2014 18:10

You know, those mysterious huts that allow entry only to cab drivers? I used to fancy they were cover for a network of underground bunkers where cackling taxi drivers plotted… Continue reading

6 Comments
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Is Anna Nicole’s absurd life worth our while? Not as much as Otello’s

15 September 2014 17:43

Otello ENO, in rep until 17 October Anna Nicole Royal Opera, in rep until 24 September So how did London’s two big opera companies launch their new seasons last week?… Continue reading

2 Comments
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Isis and Islamophobes: what a lousy time to be a British Muslim

14 September 2014 18:34

Just over a week ago I wrote a piece in the Spectator asking if we were on the verge of an anti-Muslim backlash that could spread beyond the strongholds of the… Continue reading

349 Comments
Regulars Enjoy A Traditional Black Country Pub

Spectator competition: why death is good for you (plus: add a final stanza to a well-known poem)

13 September 2014 10:30

The recent invitation to submit an imaginary feature from a newspaper’s health pages extolling the benefits to wellbeing of something traditionally thought to be bad for you drew a smallish… Continue reading

1 Comment
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Four-wheel-drives are to ISIS what longbows were to the English at Agincourt

12 September 2014 14:37

What exactly, I found myself wondering, would jihadists do without modern four-wheel-drives? Car ads are customarily shot on the French Riviera’s Grande Corniche or on a very particular road in… Continue reading

23 Comments
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The Man Booker hoicks itself back on to the plinth of respectability with this shortlist

9 September 2014 18:18

Remember when the Man Booker prize was as reputable as the Queen? When it served as the nation’s literary oracle? When nobody thought about doubting its authority because its juries… Continue reading

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Is it really imaginable that the British people could rise up against the Jews?

9 September 2014 12:16

Howard Jacobsen’s J has been shortlisted for the 2014 Booker Prize today: At first sight, J represents a significant departure for Howard Jacobson. It’s set in a future Britain where some sort of apocalypse… Continue reading

137 Comments
George Orwell, Will Self. Photo: AP/Lefteris Pitarakis

Will Self is in no position to criticise George Orwell

8 September 2014 13:33

In The Mating Season, P.G. Wodehouse – perhaps George Orwell’s only rival as the century’s greatest English writer – puts this piece of advice into Bertie Wooster’s gormless gob: ‘In… Continue reading

51 Comments
Tess and Claudia. Picture: Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images

Strictly Come Dancing review: seriously, who are the 11 million people who enjoy this stuff?

8 September 2014 12:43

There’s a Radio 4 programme, presented by the smug moraliser Marcus Brigstocke, called I’ve Never Seen Star Wars, which gets famous people to do things they’ve never done before, like… Continue reading

10 Comments
Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images

Spectator competition: write a poetic short story (plus: Philip Larkin’s version of Humpty-Dumpty)

6 September 2014 9:30

The invitation to recast a nursery rhyme in the style of a well-known author attracted a large and lively entry that was evenly split between prose and poetry. In general,… Continue reading

1 Comment
(Photo: Getty)

Joan Rivers’ diary: ‘Count your blessings, my darlings, count your blessings’

5 September 2014 10:13

Back in December 2008, Joan Rivers contributed a diary to the Spectator’s Christmas issue. Joan died yesterday at the age of 81. Here’s her piece: A lot of you weaklings out there… Continue reading

5 Comments