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

The Mystery of Princess Louise by Lucinda Hawksley - book review

Life of a royal rebel spiced up by secrets and scandals

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Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
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