Arts and Entertainment

Nina Stibbe moved to London in 1982 to work as a nanny for Mary-Kay Wilmers, the editor of the London Review of Books. In the years following, she wrote letters home to her sister in Leicester, and Love, Nina is the result.

Cock, Theatre Upstairs, Royal Court, London

A brilliant study in bisexuality

Alan Bennett reveals that his lover, 'Café Anne', is dead

Playwright talks about housekeeper who was his clandestine 'crazy mate'

The Habit of Art, NT Lyttelton, London<br/>Cock, Royal Court Upstairs, London<br/>Public Property, Trafalgar Studio 2, London

Alan Bennett&rsquo;s hugely entertaining drama tells us much about Auden and Britten &ndash; and just a little about the playwright

The Habit of Art, Lyttelton, National Theatre, London

Bennett the maestro returns with a multi-layered masterpiece

David Lister: Great writers don't need a helping hand

There's an unusual story about the new Alan Bennett play, The Habit of Art, which opens at the National Theatre next Tuesday. I gather that the National's artistic director, Nicholas Hytner, found the manuscript just pushed through his front door at home. Bennett had worked on it alone without telling anyone and, shy man that he is, just delivered it unannounced and unexpected – and departed without ringing the bell.

A very English playwright: The return of Alan Bennett

Alan Bennett stages his first play for years this month, at the National Theatre. Paul Taylor, who has met him many times, looks at how the butcher's son from Leeds became Britain's best loved playwright, and tries to unravel his complex personality

Bennett and Gambon to form dream team

Alan Bennett, arguably Britain's greatest living playwright, is to team up with Michael Gambon, one of the best actors of a generation, in the National Theatre's new season.

Tim Lott: Growing older &ndash; it's our reward for getting through youth

Life when you're young is supposed to be great. It's a myth. Let's stop pretending

My Life In Travel: Stephen Frears

'I thought Calcutta was the most exciting place in the world'

The Word On...Alan Bennett

Bennett's gift, and his reasons for it, draw attention to the indisputable fact that for millions of ordinary British people in the years between 1945 and 1980, state power was an overwhelmingly benign force... Those who set out in the late 1970s to trash that welfare state... and to disparage its motives and its outcomes had their reasons, of course. But theirs was never the only story about the evolution of post-war Britain. Joyce Macmillan ( news.scotsman.com/comment )

Mark Shivas: Film and television producer who worked with an unmatched range of writers and directors

The producer Mark Shivas was a man of privacy but with a captivating gift for friendship. He was eventually to become Head of BBC Drama and then BBC Films, and his career in film and television illuminates 40 years of British culture.

Paperback: The Book of Life, edited by Eve Claxton

It's a shame that the editor of this generous and teeming collection of memoirs gives away each writer's name at the start of their extract; it would be fun to guess-the-author, as unique voices such as Wole Soyinka ("I wondered if it was going to be possible to squeeze the blood out of the dansiki and back into the gash... beneath my hair") and Alan Bennett ("life was not going to live up to literature") rub shoulders. Some, such as Nabokov, show the influence of beginnings: "My earliest impressions... led the way to a veritable Eden of visual and tactile sensations". Endings ("When you are in your middle seventies you have passed your peak as a cat-catcher", PG Wodehouse) are just as varied.

Howard Jacobson: I don't believe that if Eton was closed down then every school beneath it would improve

Does the fault lie in the social attitudes of those who administer and teach at comprehensives?

Boots merger costs come to &#163;42m

The health and beauty retailer Bootsrevealed yesterday its planned merger with Alliance UniChem is likely to cost about £42m.

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General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'