Philip Hensher

Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Exeter, Philip Hensher was among Granta 20 Best of Young British Novelists in 2003. The author of six novels, a collection of short stories and an opera libretto, he has won numerous prizes including the Somerset Maugham Award and the Stonewall Journalist of the Year. His 2008 novel, 'The Northern Clemency', was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Commonwealth Prize. A regular presence in the British media, alongside his Wednesday column for The Independent, he writes for The Spectator and Mail on Sunday.

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Philip Hensher: Abolish all grades. Only then will GCSEs be useful for pupils and employers

One of the interesting things about the past week, as GCSE and A-level grades fell for the first time in more than two decades, was hearing outraged commentators saying that educational attainment shouldn't be subject to political manipulation. I quite agree. But what the hell do they think has been happening over the past quarter of a century?

When Carl Hester, pictured, the dressage rider, won a gold medal this week, he may have been the first openly gay athlete to win a medal at the summer Olympics
What Mrs Thatcher used to wear defined the flavour of the 1980s in ways that the youth cults never did

Philip Hensher: Only Jeremy Kyle believes in lie detector tests. Oh, and the Government

Fans of The Wire will remember a deathless scene where the policemen extract a confession from a murder suspect with a homemade lie detector. First, they load a photocopier with three sheets of paper reading TRUE, TRUE and LIE; they bring in the suspect and ask him three questions. Is your name X? Do you live in Baltimore? Did you kill your friend Rashid? TRUE, TRUE, LIE. The suspect is horrified, and starts blabbing.

Hans and Eva Rausing at a function in 2003

Philip Hensher: The postcode lottery of drug-related deaths

Probably on the same day another woman was killed in the same way as Eva Rausing, leaving behind an addicted partner

The Yips, By Nicola Barker

Barker's novel spins outwards, sucking into an elaborate narrative bizarre characters in steadily more unpredictable scenarios

Philip Hensher: I only scraped my O-levels but Gove is right

When Michael Gove announced that he was preparing to introduce a new two-tier system of examinations at 16, resembling the old O-levels and CSEs, the response from the teaching profession and the Government's coalition partners was predictable.

Rural ideal: a model of how the Olympic Stadium will look next month

Philip Hensher: Danny Boyle and the myth of country life

Round our way, there's an excellent annual event in a Brixton park called the Lambeth Country Show. All sorts of country practices are rounded up and brought to civilisation for the day – there's Hold an Owl, some Morris dancing and a Rare Breeds tent.

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Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone