DJ Taylor

David John Taylor is a British critic, novelist and biographer.

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DJ Taylor: Boarding-school matron Faith Spurgeon is very much a fixture of the establishment

In her mid-fifties now, tall, angular, hair faintly badgerish, Faith Spurgeon belongs to what these days is a highly exclusive part of the social demographic: the downwardly mobile, aristocratic poor.

The popularity of TV shows such as The Liver Birds encouraged Liverpudlians to exaggerate their Scouse accent

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too

Not always in synch: Michael Palin (second left) says the rest of the Monty Python team found John Cleese (left) ‘difficult’ to work with

When bile is one of the creative juices: Michael Palin's take on the dilemmas of artistic collaboration are horribly revealing

He has said some harsh things about his Monty Python colleague John Cleese, but collaborators often fall out...

DJ Taylor: Adland veteran Tony Kippax is a ducker, a diver, a weaver and, above all, a survivor

Despite his comparatively youthful appearance – crinkly black hair worn in a ponytail, the suspicion of a goatee – it takes only a moment or two of Tony Kippax's conversation to establish that he has been working in advertising for a very long time.

DJ Taylor: Femme fatale Tara Murchison has been known to throw glasses of wine over people

It is always an entertaining spectacle to watch Tara Murchison being treated to dinner by one of her young men – far more entertaining than if you happen to be one of those young men yourself.

Novel ideas: Fay Weldon suggests there are now two types of reader: Kindle lame-brains and literary thinkers

Ebook apartheid: Fay Weldon calls on writers to adapt their style for technology

Her views allege that there are now, in effect, two audiences - serious readers on the one hand and Kindle-addled lame-brains on the other

DJ Taylor: Conspiracy theorist Bernie Staples has lots of eye-catching secrets about the way the world is really run

Charles Dickens once wrote an amusing essay called "It is Not Generally Known". The fragments of data that Bernie Staples so avidly dishes out, in saloon bar, office corridor or in the comfort of his dining room in Potters Bar, are not so much not generally known as completely unthought of.

DJ Taylor: Hippie chick Olivia Partridge has not neglected any opportunity to live life to the full

Four-and-a-half decades have passed since the day on which the 18-year-old Olivia Partridge decided to quit her parents' house near Guildford – her father had just retired from the Admiralty – and go in search of what she called "a freer way of living".

Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey VC

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Beware of imitations, but the words of Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey were the real thing

DJ Taylor: Dai Rhys-Davies's professional Welshness is founded less on linguistic oddity than enraptured cultural affiliation

In Dai Rhys-Davies's defence, it cannot be said that his national origins are borne into the room on a plate. The lilting, sing-song voice that he brought with him to London 20 years ago has been toned down a bit now; it is only rarely that he addresses one of his convives as "boyo" or urges him to "look you here".

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Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

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We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor