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History

The ‘Catalogus Plantarum’ is an early botany book that urges its reader to walk in the British wild.

The Secret Lives of Books – occasional tales from the Bodleian

22 April 2013 13:28

Does monotropa hypopithys, or yellow bird’s nest, still grow in Mickleham, Surrey, in the woods once owned by Sir Lucas Pepys the celebrity physician who, in ministering to King George… Continue reading

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Dancers of the Badora Dance Company perform on the stage of the National Dance Theatre in Budapest on December 20, 2011 during their rehearsal of Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet", choreographed by Hungarian Dora Barta. AFP PHOTO / ATTILA KISBENEDEK (Photo credit should read ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP/Getty Images)

Falling out of love, William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 97 – discovering poetry

15 April 2013 9:07

How like a winter hath my absence been From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year! What freezings have I felt, what dark days seen, What old December’s bareness everywhere!… Continue reading

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The sun sets over the river Liffey in Dublin. (BARRY CRONIN/AFP/Getty Images)

Interview with a writer: Kevin Maher

5 April 2013 10:30

Kevin Maher’s debut novel The Fields is set in the suburban streets of south Dublin in 1984. The story is narrated by Jim Finnegan: an innocent 13-year-old boy who lives… Continue reading

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Van Dyck's first self-portrait (C.1615), which forms the cover of 'The Young Van Dyck' edited Alejandro Vergara and Friso Lammertse. (Courtesy of Thames and Hudson)

The Young Van Dyck edited by Alejandro Vergara and Friso Lammertse – review

4 April 2013 10:00

Precocious genius will never fail to impress. But it is also very hard to relate to. Aged 14, Anthony Van Dyck painted a Portrait of a Seventy-Year-Old man that looked… Continue reading

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A picture taken during the Special Air Service's celebrated operation in the Iranian embassy in London, 1980. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

Zero Six Bravo proves that too much secrecy over Special Forces is a bad thing

3 April 2013 9:30

Zero Six Bravo tells of 60 Special Forces operators forced to remain silent in the face of accusations of ‘cowardice’ and ‘running away from the Iraqis’ in the 2003 war.… Continue reading

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A gathering around 'our chief of men', by the Cromwell Association in 2008.

John Milton’s ambiguous love for Oliver Cromwell – Discovering poetry

2 April 2013 10:28

‘To Oliver Cromwell’ Cromwell, our chief of men, who through a cloud Not of war only, but detractions rude, Guided by faith and matchless fortitude To peace and truth thy… Continue reading

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Three Mitford sisters in the early thirties. Nancy Mitford (right) pinched 'U and non-U' pronunciation from Professor Ross, author of 'How to Pronounce It'. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

How To Pronounce It – U and non-U. A guide for George “innit” Osborne.

28 March 2013 11:38

Sometimes, in the joyous lotteries we call ‘secondhand bookshops’, you find a volume that takes you back to a different era because of its physical appearance. Sometimes you find one… Continue reading

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People light candles in front of the Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) to commemorate the bombing of Dresden, which was so vividly described by Victor Gregg in Rifleman. Gregg was a British prisoner being held in Dresden at the time of the bombings. (ROBERT MICHAEL/AFP/Getty Images)

Rifleman by Victor Gregg is a book you ought to read

21 March 2013 10:00

I live in New York and until this month I had never heard of Victor Gregg, the World War II veteran whose 2011 memoir, Rifleman, was hailed as possibly the… Continue reading

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Circa 1700, Drawings of classical ladies' hairstyles. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Was Katherine Philips a lesbian love poet?

18 March 2013 9:58

To my Excellent Lucasia , on our Friendship. I did not live until this time Crowned my felicity – When I could say without a crime I am not thine,… Continue reading

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A statue of General Charles de Gaulle on the Champs Elysees. (JACQUES DEMARTHON/AFP/Getty Images)

A tale of two colonels

15 March 2013 9:05

This week, March 11th, marks the 50th anniversary of the shooting by firing squad near Paris of the last person (so far) to be executed by the state for political… Continue reading

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The Colosseum. (FILIPPO MONTEFORTE,FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/GettyImages)

Review – Invisible Romans, by Robert Knapp

5 March 2013 12:39

It’s tempting to reduce the Roman Empire to a roll call of famous men and their infamous deeds. The Republic toppled with Caesar on the steps of the senate; freedom… Continue reading

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The tomb of Queen Elizabeth I at Westminster Abbey, a prime example of the Elizabethans' desire to outlive death. Image: Getty

Discovering poetry: Samuel Daniel and the art of outliving death

4 March 2013 16:52

from Delia When winter snows upon thy golden hairs, And frost of age hath nipped thy flowers near; When dark shall seem thy day that never clears, And all lies… Continue reading

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Papuan tribal warriors from Karang Senang village armed with bows and arrows prepare to attack the neighboring Harapan village after two Karang Senang tribesmen were killed in the raging tribal war in Mimika town located in Indonesia's restive Papua province. Authorities effort to mediate between the warring tribes have failed as violence erupted in 2012.  (TJAHJONO ERANIUS/AFP/GettyImages)

Interview with a writer: Jared Diamond

1 March 2013 10:55

In his latest book The World Until Yesterday, Jared Diamond analyses the behavioral differences between human beings in tribal stateless-societies and those living in bureaucratic nation states. Diamond says that if… Continue reading

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Roy Lichtenstein, ‘The red horseman’, 1974.

Roy Lichtenstein: comic genius?

26 February 2013 10:24

Tate Modern promises that its forthcoming retrospective will showcase ‘the full scope of Roy Lichtenstein’s artistic explorations’, to which Spectator art critic Andrew Lambirth responded acidly: ‘I look forward to… Continue reading

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The Silence of Animals hi res

Interview with a writer: John Gray

22 February 2013 9:59

In his new book The Silence of Animals, the philosopher John Gray explores why human beings continue to use myth to give purpose to their lives. Drawing from the material… Continue reading

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The choir perform from within the Dome sanctuary of St Paul's Cathedral. Picture: LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty

Discovering poetry: how the Psalms made the English

19 February 2013 11:14

Psalm 42, verses 1-8 Philip Sidney                                         Miles Coverdale Miles Coverdale’s translation of the psalms was among the first fruit of Henry VIII’s ambivalent reformation. The religion of Henry’s England was… Continue reading

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German Dictator, Adolf Hitler addressing a rally in Germany, circa 1939.  (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

National Socialism: the clue’s in the name

15 February 2013 12:51

How can conservatives ensure they always lose? A good place to start is to concede every lie of the left. The Conservative Party appears to be doing what it can… Continue reading

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US soldiers carry a wounded comrade through a swampy area during action in Vietnam in 1969. NATIONAL ARCHIVES/AFP/GettyImages

War is not to be envied

11 February 2013 13:09

Donald Anderson is a former US Air Force Colonel and current professor of English Literature at the US Air Force Academy. His new book, Gathering Noise from my Life: A… Continue reading

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English Romantic poet George Gordon Byron in Albanian dress, painted by Thomas Phillips circa 1815. Image: Getty

Young Romantics quiz

6 February 2013 11:45

Byron may have been mad, bad and dangerous to know, but how’s your knowledge of the rest of the Young Romantics? Are you a connoisseur of Keats, or a specialist on… Continue reading

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Richard III's deformed skeleton proves that one supposed Tudor libel about the king was no more than the truth. Image: Getty

Richard III should be reburied under Leicester council’s car park

5 February 2013 14:00

Anyone who watched last night’s Channel 4 Documentary Richard III: The King Under the Car Park will need no reminding that members of the Richard III Society tend to be… Continue reading

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The skull of King Richard III. Image: Getty

Reading Richard III

4 February 2013 13:32

The confirmation that bones found beneath a Leicester car park are ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ those of Richard III has launched a deluge of familiar puns. ‘A hearse! A hearse! My… Continue reading

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William of Orange rides to victory over James II at the Battle of the Boyne, 7 years before the publication of Dryden's "Jacobite" translation of Virgil's Aeneid. Image: Getty

Discovering poetry: John Dryden, Jacobite superstar

4 February 2013 9:41

From Dryden’s translation of Virgil’s Aeneid Arms and the man I sing who forced by fate And haughty Juno’s unrelenting hate Expelled and exiled left the Trojan shore. Long labours… Continue reading

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We look at Lincoln through glass that is dark in places and rose-tinted in others. ‘Truth’ is elusive in such light. Image: Getty

Abraham Lincoln ‘somehow’ became the great redeemer

29 January 2013 14:00

Abraham Lincoln, in Walt Whitman’s celebrated phrase, contained multitudes. M.E. Synon showed yesterday quite how many there might have been. There is evidence of prejudice, callousness and corruption. Yet there… Continue reading

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Image: Getty

Abraham Lincoln, the ‘specious humbug’

28 January 2013 10:38

This post by M.E. Synon is the first in a series about Stephen Spielberg’s Lincoln. A counter-argument will be published tomorrow, followed by a comparison of screen and literary adaptations of the… Continue reading

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A man dressed as Henry VIII progresses up the Thames in search of more plenty. Image: Getty

Discovering poetry: Henry VIII’s Camelot

21 January 2013 10:23

‘Pastime with good company’, attributed to Henry VIII Pastime with good company I love and shall until I die. Grudge who list, but none deny, So God be pleased, thus… Continue reading

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