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.

Pandora: Stage dive blunts James's picking

James Blunt's military days may be well behind him, but his second career still provides the odd professional injury.

Robert Fisk: Where is our man for all seasons?

Ghosts from our recent tragedy spring at us from this screenplay

Paperback: Henry VIII's Last Victim, by Jessie Childs

For anyone craving yet another Tudor hit, the snake-pit of Henrician politics is exposed in Jessie Child's elegant biography of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey. An aristocratic courtier and soldier and a talented sonneteer, Surrey introduced blank verse into English poetry. While his poetry was sensitive, his behaviour verged on the preposterous. Present at the execution of his cousins Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, he was himself was beheaded for treason in 1547. In the process of debunking this romantic hero, Child also offers plenty of empathetic insights into the 16th-century mind.

Why poetry still matters, by Boyd Tonkin

From Beowulf to Philip Larkin, poetry's past haunts its present. Below, Andrew Motion, Bonnie Greer, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Culture Secretary on the poems that changed their lives

Natalie Portman - more than a woman

She loved being a scheming Tudor temptress but that's not all Natalie Portman is interested in

The Weasel: Tower of Power

Contrary to historical precedent, Mrs W lost her head before she went to the Tower of London. The chain of events leading to her decapitation, which I hasten to add was metaphorical, began when she overcame a lifelong fear of heights and took the brave step of acquiring a pair of high heels. The elegant footwear in black suede was then allowed to mature in its box for about six months. But when we were invited to the Tabasco Club’s supper at the Tower, she decided that the time had arrived for the great unveiling.

The Queen's Fool by Philippa Gregory

A Tudor tale of power and sibling rivalry

Pursuits: Creativity

WOULD WEATHERMEN be isobarred and vicars taken out of service? (JR Gore). And still they flood in, those appropriate sackings. So much excellent material was omitted, I will be self-publishing a Creativity Extra (magazine) to give it all a platform. Watch this space.

Interview: Charlotte Rampling - What the Dickens?

Charlotte Rampling as Miss Havisham? I'm just right for the part, she tells James Rampton

Literary Notes: Bursting bodices and romantic beheadings

WHEN I was a child, my favourite book in the world was neither The Wind in the Willows nor Winnie the Pooh, but a battered volume in my parents' bookcase called The Tower of London.

The 50 best: Good ways to have a really bad time

It's that day of the year when children turn into ghouls and parents have nightmares - so why not make the most of it. This week, our panel picks out the best ways to scare yourself silly this Hallowe'en, from horror movies to theme-park rides. Jenny Gilbert took notes

John Mitchell London SE13

Sir: Twentieth-century presidents are not the first to need spin- doctors to try to guard them against rumours of dalliance or their own imprecision when denying it.

A woman wants a mistress, too

If wives had someone else to look after the family, they would be free to take a lover, argues Glenda Cooper

Exhibition: The heart and skull of humanism

Death is among us, but strife is not inevitable. That's the message of Holbein's 'Ambassadors', now restored by the National Gallery
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Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project