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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Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn