Melissa Benn

Melissa Ann Benn is a British journalist and writer. She is the author of ‘School Wars: The Battle for Britain’s Education’

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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

SACRED COWS: IS FEMINISM RELEVANT TO THE NEW MILLENNIUM?

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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Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there