Socialist shirkers

Between the wars, two privately-educated brothers became the models for today’s well-to-do young leftists by launching an anti-imperialist periodical. We conclude last week’s study of reforming children’s literature 

The rise in 'literary' crime novels

There's absolutely nothing wrong with crime fiction that has no deeper ambition than to keep the reader turning the pages. But it’s nice to have added value with a writer who is concerned with the quality of their prose – not at the expense of storytelling momentum, but taking that extra iota of care over language.

Human metamorphosis

In her new book, reflecting on how and why we change, Polly Morland explores 19 true stories. In this extract, she hears how a violinist who felt cut off from ‘real life’ took a 10-year journey to join the police

Emil Zátopek: The greatest Olympian who defied Russian tanks

Emil Zátopek was once the world's best loved athlete – many runners still consider him the greatest Olympic champion of all. But in 1968 his life took a turn for the worse. His brave stand against the Soviet tanks that invaded his native Czechoslovakia saw him fall foul of the Communist authorities – and vanish from public life. Today, he is all but forgotten. And yet, argues Richard Askwith, his story is as relevant today as it has ever been