Arts and Entertainment

I hadn't realised – until I read this book – how much work Henry VIII's marital problems caused the stonemasons of Hampton Court. After years of carving the letters H&C all over the place, Henry got rid of Catherine of Aragon, so the Cs had to be reworked as As. But, no sooner was the last A in place than Anne Boleyn was executed on Tower Hill and the As had to become Js to suit Jane Seymour, who promptly died in childbirth. And there were still three more queens to go, so, lots more chiseling, presumably.

Charles Jarrott: Film director best known for 'Anne of the Thousand Days' and 'Mary, Queen of Scots'

Charles Jarrott's most successful films were the first two he directed in Hollywood, the Elizabethan dramas Anne of the Thousand Days and Mary, Queen of Scots. He won a Golden Globe for the former, but perhaps tellingly, he was not nominated for an Oscar for either film, though Anne of the Thousand Days received 10 nominations, including Best Actor and Best Actress. Subsequently he had to live down the dubious distinction of having directed one of the worst screen musicals ever made, the ludicrous Lost Horizon (1973). But before taking up a Hollywood contract Jarrott worked for many years in television, and if his film career was not distinguished, his work on television included notable collaborations with such writers as Harold Pinter, Arnold Wesker, Alun Owen and Johnny Speight.

Have we lost the art of writing love letters?

On Valentine's Day, John Walsh looks at the history of billets doux - and wonders whether they can survive in the digital age

Romantic escapes: Love is all around

With less than a week until Valentine's Day, it's still not too late to treat your sweetheart to a romantic escape. Rhiannon Batten recommends some British breaks to warm the heart

Wolf Hall, By Hilary Mantel

Hilary Mantel's portrait of the blacksmith's son who rose to become Henry VIII's right-hand man, and for a time, the most powerful individual in the country, is a tour de force. It seems unfair to cite this book in a "best of" list once again, after it dominated so many of last year's selections, but it still outclasses almost anything else (and costs less than half as much in paperback, out this year).

Harriet Walker: What about some land for the poor?

Cronyism (noun, abst): the divvying up of the decent bits and the giving of them to one's mates. If you want the most enduring image of cronyism, think not of Iraq and Halliburton or Simon Cowell and Cheryl Cole's stellar career. Instead, go all the way back to the Domesday Book, which catalogues the land shared out by William the Conqueror to the feudal lords that helped him win.

Cultural Life: Miranda Raison, actress

Theatre: I went to see my friend Hannah Stokely in 'After the Dance' at the National. It is a seldom-done Terence Rattigan play that I had never heard of, let alone seen before, and it is an absolutely sublime production. Han and I were at drama school together and were laughing about what a relief it is when a friend's show is good and you don't have to rehearse a believable compliment on the way up to the dressing room.

Harriet Walker: The grey area in gender perceptions

Yet another example this week of the fatally divergent galaxies inhabited by men and women. While the latest trend reports have women hotfooting it to the local salon to get their hair dyed grey, a survey reveals that 51 per cent of men find encroaching silver strands one of the scariest prospects in the canon of depressing inevitabilities.

My life in ten questions...Sarah Cawood

''He's Just Not That Into You' changed my attitude to romance'

The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Everyman, Liverpool

Red brigade in a class of their own

Anne Boleyn: Drama Queen

Powerful, alluring and misunderstood – Howard Brenton reveals why the intriguing Anne Boleyn is the perfect protagonist for his new play at the Globe

The Lady in the Tower by Alison Weir

In a court crammed with charismatic figures, Anne Boleyn was probably its most captivating player.

Henry VIII, Shakespeare’s Globe, London

Henry VIII is notorious as the play which burned down the original Globe when its thatched roof was set on fire by the cannon shot saluting the entrance of the King in an early scene. To modern taste, that disaster has come to look like a shrewd critical verdict on the play. It's no surprise that the reconstructed Globe has only now got round to presenting the play in a vivid, robust, and winningly well-conceived production by Mark Rosenblatt.

One Minute With: Alison Weir

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