A dog named Moily with US Marines in Afghanistan's Helmand province in February 2011 (Photo: Dmitry Kostyukova, AFP/Getty)

Isis are dogs; pet the dogs, kill the terrorists and defend moderate Islam

31 October 2014 12:38

Malaysian pharmacist Syed Azmi has emerged from hiding to apologise for organising ‘I Want to Touch a Dog’ earlier in October, a canine-petting event that drew a few hundred mostly… Continue reading

Love is in the air. But don't worry: if the feeling fades, divorce has never been cheaper. (JACQUES DEMARTHON/AFP/Getty Images)

A Valentine Day special – Britain’s cheapest ever divorce

14 February 2014 12:10

You know, when the pope went on in his recent encyclical about how the family ‘is experiencing a profound cultural crisis’ he wasn’t half right. His reflection that ‘the individualism of our… Continue reading

Old books, Getty Images

Stoner by John Williams – review

22 July 2013 10:41

Faced with a book as simple and true as Stoner, it’s easy to fall into the trap of intentional fallacy. It is the portrait of a quiet farm boy, who… Continue reading

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Clive James has translated The Divine Comedy by Dante (pictured).

Clive James – laughing and loving

8 July 2013 17:19

Clive James was a recurring presence in last weekend’s literary press. There was, I regret to say, a valedictory feel to the coverage. Robert McCrum, of the Guardian, was not… Continue reading

Had we but world enough and time... (PAL PILLAI/AFP/Getty Images)

To their coy mistresses: two poems about the arts of seduction

17 June 2013 11:18

Andrew Marvell, from ‘To His Coy Mistress’ But at my back I always hear Times winged chariot hurrying near: And yonder all before us lie Deserts of vast eternity. Thy… Continue reading


Dangerous romance – Clever Girl by Tessa Hadley

21 May 2013 9:10

‘The bus company’s yellow tin sign on its concrete post seemed for a long while a forlorn flag announcing nothing,’ notes Stella, the narrator of Tessa Hadley’s new novel Clever… Continue reading

Lord Byron circa 1810, shortly after the publication of ‘Stanzas to [Mrs Musters] on Leaving England’, the poem which prompted his childhood friend Elizabeth Parkyns to write a savage riposte.

Taking revenge on wicked Lord Byron

15 May 2013 8:30

This is the second article in an occasional series by Christopher Fletcher, Keeper of Special Collections at the Bodleian Library. You can read the first instalment here. By 1814, two… Continue reading

The ‘hey nonino’ nonsense in As you Like It has certainly not aged well. But the sense of love and lovers it articulates is timeless. (ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)

In defence of William Shakespeare’s nonsense

29 April 2013 10:43

‘It was a lover and his lass’ from As You Like It It was a lover and his lass With a hey and a ho and a hey nonino, That… Continue reading

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

John Banville's The Sea wins the 2005 Booker Prize. (Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

Interview with a writer: John Banville

29 March 2013 11:00

The salubrious surroundings of the Waldorf Hotel seem like a very apt setting to interview a master of style and sophistication. When I arrive in the lobby, John Banville is… Continue reading

Madame Tussauds launch the new George Clooney waxwork ahead of Valentine's Day. Image: Getty

The true romantic

14 February 2013 9:30

Schmaltz just doesn’t sit well with traditional English sensibilities. We spend hundreds of millions of pounds on Valentine’s Day each year whilst acknowledging that it’s a load of commercial tosh.… Continue reading

Katherine Angel's 'Unmastered' is a singular exploration of female sexual desire. Image: Getty.

Unmastered: A book on desire, most difficult to tell (…or read)

26 September 2012 9:42

Among the new words which entered the English Dictionary last year was ‘overshare’, def: ‘to reveal an inappropriate amount of detail about one’s personal life’. If that detail pertains to… Continue reading

'John Saturnall's Feast' would have been the ideal setting for Lawrence Norfolk's full descriptive talents. Image: Getty.

Review – John Saturnall’s Feast, by Lawrence Norfolk

25 September 2012 15:16

Lawrence Norfolk has always liked to centre his novels around a mixture of existing and constructed myth, and then let the action which happens centuries later be informed by or… Continue reading

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Hemingway Day Look A Like Festival Winner

The Spectrum – the week in books

UP: SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE Faber’s new Shakespeare’s Sonnets app is rated 12+ on account of its ‘Infrequent/Mild Sexual Content or Nudity’. After watching Andrew Motion’s  come-to-bed reading of Sonnet 142… Continue reading

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Special Screening Of Columbia Pictures' "Julie & Julia" - Arrivals

Across the literary pages: Of life, love and death

2 July 2012 19:00

John Banville’s reputation as a master stylist and serious novelist wasn’t done any harm by the weekend reviews for his latest book Ancient Light. Familiar riffs on his usual leitmotifs… Continue reading

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Ed Miliband and Justine Thornton to marry

30 March 2011 8:48

A scoop-and-a-half for the Doncaster Free Press, who were first with the news of Ed Miliband and Justine Thornton’s wedding date. It is 27 May, lest you hadn’t heard already,… Continue reading