Christopher Hirst

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

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Book review: Leonardo and the Last Supper, By Ross King

King has conjured up an absorbing Renaissance case study: Leonardo's Milanese masterpiece comes to life when we learn that the Afghan ultramarine used for Christ's mantle cost the same per ounce as the annual rent of a house, while the actual supper has recently been revealed as "eel garnished with slices of orange".

Book review: The Light Garden of the Angel King, By Peter Levi

The inaccessibility of Afghanistan adds lustre to this poetic masterpiece about a visit in the inconceivably peaceful late Sixties.

Book review: The Big Screen, By David Thomson

The good, the bad and the mediocre stuff of cinema

WikiLeaks, By David Leigh and Luke Harding

This "new and updated edition" adds 33 pages to the 2010 original but few revelations.

Book review: The Story of Music, By Howard Goodall

Goodall's thesis begins with a 40,000-year-old flute. "It is from [such] dusty artefacts that Duke Ellington's horn section… would one day grow."

Book review: Bertie, By Jane Ridley

This monumental but deliciously readable life of Edward VII reveals that, as Prince of Wales, he was a complete nightmare. "Bertie" was so greedy that one courtier was said to have burned down his house so he didn't have to entertain the prince.

Book review: A Natural History of Ghosts, By Roger Clarke

Though rationalists may scoff at Clarke's encounter with a ghostly bouncing ball, he tackles the supernatural with gusto, intelligence and persistence.

Book review: Collected Ghost Stories, By MR James

The don and the damned: a master of terror returns

Book review: First Class, By Chris West

A "history of Britain in 36 postage stamps" could have been as fusty as the hobby from which it emerged but West's annotations are well-crafted and revealing.

Book review: Parthenon, By David Stuttard

This atmospheric account of Europe's greatest classical structure, built by Pericles in a mere 15 years after the Persians levelled Athens, suggests that it was a piecemeal construction with no masterplan.

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Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

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She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

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Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
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The 10 best bedspreads

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Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
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Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

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Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

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Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

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