Christopher Hirst

Christopher Hirst is an award-winning food writer and freelance journalist.

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The Valley by Richard Benson, book review: A social and personal history of mining

Having scored a bestseller with The Farm, a closely observed account of his father and brother losing an uphill battle on the Yorkshire Wolds, Benson swaps rural for industrial and skips back a generation in The Valley. Covering a century in the ravaged Dearne Valley near Doncaster, this epic panorama of mining life focuses on Benson's maternal grandparents, Harry "Juggler" Hollingworth and his wife Winnie. Fortunately for both reader and author, they turn out to be good company on this marathon, intriguing oddities with curious lives beyond the colliery.

Extinct way of life: miner John Pearce finishing his shift at Armthorpe colliery near Doncaster, in 1947
The celebrity chef Clarissa Dickson Wright, who has died at the age of 66

Clarissa Dickson Wright dead: Appreciation - we’ve lost our foremost advocate of wholesome, hearty, British fare

One of her dishes was called Bugger Blair, as a protest against the ban on fox hunting

Did She Kill Him? by Kate Colquhoun; Lady Bette and the Murder of Mr Thynn by N.A.Pickford, book reviews

Two murder cases that proved a sensation in their day are expertly dissected

Gravity's Engines, By Caleb Scharf: Book review

This surprisingly gripping book from the director of Columbia University's Astrobiology Centre concerns "the most extraordinary and bizarre characteristics of nature".

The Allure of Chanel, By Paul Morand: Book review

This handsome edition will make the perfect Christmas gift for the fashionista if only for the sexy illustrations by Karl Lagerfeld.

Seen behind the Scene, By Mary Ellen Mark: Book review

These glorious black-and-white spreads from 40 years of photographing on set undermine Godard's "Photography is truth. Cinema is truth 24 times a second."

The Hidden History of the JFK Assassination, By Lamar Waldron: Book review

All but Grassy Knoll obsessives will sigh, "Not another conspiracy theory", but this epic investigation is going to be "a major motion picture" starring DiCaprio and De Niro.

Fascist Voices, By Christopher Duggan: Book review

The banality of evil, spoken in its own voice

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Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine