Taylor claims gay issue 'not easy' for stars

Players' chief Gordon Taylor has defended professional footballers following claims that no big names would agree to appear in a video to launch a campaign against homophobia.

Bury Place Papers, By Frank Kermode

This collection of "Essays from the London Review of Books, 1979-2007" not only demonstrates Frank Kermode's dexterity and range; it also shows a sense of humour I hadn't picked up on before. In his 1986 review of three weighty Hemingway biographies, for instance, two of which focused on Hemingway's early years and his first marriage to Hadley Richardson, he comments, with some feeling, on the amount of detail included: "Although it may seem a little ungracious to say so, for she was an interesting woman, you may feel some regret that a thousand letters from Hadley to Ernest have survived." Kermode is nothing if not diligent: if he had to read every word of those letters, one senses that he would do so.

Album: Luke Haines, 21st Century Man (Fantastic Plastic)

The publication of his Britpop-based memoir Bad Vibes has increased the perception that all Haines' works, written or musical, are essentially autobiography laced with bitter socio-cultural critique. 21st Century Mandoes nothing to shake theAuteur's image as theangry man in the corner ofthe pub of pop. But angrymensometimes need to belistened to and the finalehere is a Harrison-esquetitle track that revisits thebleaker moments of the1970s and 1980swhilevowing he's going to "lay itall to rest". Believe that,you'll believe anything.

Book him! Sports biographies that went too far

Rugby League's Sean Long found himself in hot water this week when he revealed details about the betting scandal that saw him suspended from the sport.

Obits in Brief: Marvin 'Popcorn' Sutton

Marvin "Popcorn" Sutton, who died on 16 March aged 62, was an Appalachian moonshiner from North Carolina who in 1999 published Me and My Likker, an autobiography and guide to moonshining.

The Autobiography of the Queen, By Emma Tennant

Here's a world in which our gracious monarch, sick to death of her public and private duties, ups stumps and heads for St Lucia, incognito. How on earth could the Queen even hope to do that? It is one of many unanswered questions in this engaging but unenlightening tale. It works well enough as a fable but less well as a novel, as something where thoughts and motives are properly investigated.

The Life of Samuel Johnson, By James Boswell

No, you won't read this majestic new edition of the grandaddy of all biographies by next week, or even next year. What you may well do, mightily assisted by editor David Womersley's notes, is cherish it for ever as a source for dips, browses and rambles around an inexhaustible life.

The Fighter, By Tim Parks

Not all of the writers, thinkers and politicians whom Parks considers in this volume of essays were "fighters": Thomas Hardy, Parks insists in an atypically anodyne run-through of familiar biographical details, didn't fight at all when the critics smashed Jude the Obscure to bits, and instead gave up novel-writing for good. Those who do fit the bill, however, tend to make for the sharper essays, so the opening one on D H Lawrence is a superlative piece of literary criticism, as is a subsequent essay on Dostoevsky.

Two Lives, by Janet Malcolm

This brief, immaculately written work casts a penetrating light on Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas and the strange biographical conundrums that surround them. Malcolm chips away at the mystery of how "a pair of elderly Jewish lesbians survived the Nazis". She probes the 50-year silence of a scholar entrusted with Stein's "electrifying" notebooks. But Malcolm's central concern is with the relationship between the author of the profoundly odd The Making of Americans ("this strangest of strange books") and her spiky companion, half slave, half dominatrix. A 1,000-page biography would not tell you more about them.

Orson Welles: Hello Americans by Simon Callow

Genius without portfolio

President Reagan: The Triumph of Imagination, by Richard Reeves

Ronnie and his amazing fiscal follies

The Conjuror'S Bird, by Martin Davies

Biologist turns sleuth in quest for mystery bird - and its DNA

The Conjuror's Bird, by Martin Davies

Biologist turns sleuth in quest for mystery bird - and its DNA
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Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee