Melissa Benn

Melissa Ann Benn is a British journalist and writer. A new edition of her ‘School Wars: The Battle for Britain’s Education’ will be published by Verso in November. Her next book, ‘What Should We Tell Our Daughters?’, will be published in 2013

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Book of a lifetime: Middlemarch, By George Eliot

I agree with Michael Gove about very little but we are at one on the greatness of Middlemarch, rightly described by Virginia Woolf as "a magnificent book that, with all its imperfections [is] one of the few English novels written for grown-up people". Originally published in part form, subtitled "A Study of Provincial Life", Middlemarch is a slow, unfolding story of the lives and loves of one Midlands town (thought to be Coventry), as well as a reflection on the bigger political issues and changes in mid-19th century England.

Leave things to the professionals, Mr Gove

The Education Secretary almost managed to make his climbdown on the EBC look like part of a bigger masterplan. Almost, but not quite

To vote or not to vote? At 16, children like my daughter are old enough to decide for themselves

Why do assume that as long as teenagers live with their parents, they have no civic responsibilities? We adults are more confused about this than our children

Wednesday book: A powerful voice of truth and reconciliation

Living in Hope and History: notes from our century

Wednesday Book: From feminism to womanism


Books: Courage to go with the flow of a novel kind: The Whole Woman by Germaine Greer Doubleday, pounds 16.99, 352pp

Melissa Benn finds that the eternal feminist has cut loose from despair and set sail for Utopia

Historical Notes: From personal tragedy to new ways of living and old

MOTHERHOOD IS a theme that has, unsurprisingly, been tackled by some of the great feminists of the post- Enlightenment era. Several of these writers, such as Simone de Beauvoir and Germaine Greer, have written about the topic without being mothers themselves. This has lent their arguments an appealing sweep and didacticism but it has also placed more emphasis on rationality and free will than many mothers feel themselves to possess in real life.

Some things never change

Thirty years into feminism, and guess who's still doing the housework? Melissa Benn throws down her duster

Books: From lessay-fair to a coo-day-tar

Melissa Benn acclaims a narrative of one girl's search for the language that defeats despair

Thursday's book: Are You Somebody? Nuala O'Faolain

Rare is the book that you really cannot put down, the one that seems as necessary, poignant, impossible and joyful as life. This short work of memory and desire by one of Ireland's most prominent columnists is one of them.
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Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

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Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
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A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
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His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
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Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
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From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
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12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
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How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam