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Writer and philosopher whose work, beginning with ‘The Outsider’, searched for the meaning of man’s existence

West End dream becomes reality for unknown actress

It is the stuff that dreams are made of - the star pulls out of a West End show and the unknown actor is plucked from oblivion to play the leading role.

Dark Knight of the soul-destroying

CINEMA; The evil of innuendo stalks Gotham City as Joel Schumacher delivers the latest, pun-plagued version of 'Batman and Robin'

THE FULL MONTY

Actor RICHARD GRIFFITHS talks with Liese Spencer

Emily Lloyd walks out on West End

The actress Emily Lloyd last night pulled out of Pygmalion - her West End debut. Neither her agent, publicist, nor the play's producers would comment on her sudden departure.

Lawrence of Arabia feud revealed by letter

Lawrence of Arabia's mixed feelings about his role in the Arab Revolt in the First World War have been highlighted by a newly-discovered letter.

Theatre With David Benedict

Hot news: David Hare is to direct Heartbreak House. His bold, rigorous translation of Chekhov's little known Ivanov swept audiences off their feet at the Almeida earlier this year (I know, I saw it twice). And Heartbreak House - a Fantasia in the Russian Manner on English Themes is George Bernard Shaw's most Chekhovian play. So enticing is the combination of Hare and the Almeida and this terrific text, that a dynamite cast has already signed up for the pounds 260 per week wage. After playing Galliano there in Hare's Brecht Translation, Richard Griffiths returns to play Captain Shotover. Malcolm Sinclair will play the idealistic Mazzini Dunn, with Emma Fielding as his daughter Ellie and there's the altogether alluring prospect of a sister act by the illustrious Penelope Wilton and Patrica Hodge as Hesione Hushabye and Lady Utterword.

Are they receiving us? By George, she's got it!

The week on radio

Over-caffeinated and over there

When the going gets cold, the cold seek coffee. Sasha Abramsky warms to the cosy cafes of a chilly Amsterdam

I wrote a letter to my love

Don't used lined paper and don't be pornographic ... Suzi Feay on the art of putting passion on paper

Classical Reviews: LSO Brahms Centenary series Barbican Hall, London

George Bernard Shaw reviled the German Requiem, and Benjamin Britten poured scorn on the piano pieces. Even so, the music of Brahms remains one of the good things of life. True, as the celebrations roll in this the centenary year of his death, some people will no doubt find their pet aversions in his work. At its best, however, Brahms's art is balanced, warm and humane. In any celebration of this composer, his positive qualities are bound to predominate.

Mad about the pianist: a Hollywood obsession with insanity

The Hands of Orlac tells the story of a concert pianist caught in a train crash, who is miraculously unmarked except for his hands, which are mangled beyond repair. "Prepare for amputation," says a doctor grimly. "No! Those hands must be saved!" screams his wife, who summons the top surgeon in the land. Enter soft-spoken Peter Lorre, who secretly replaces them with the transplanted hands of a freshly guillotined knife-thrower. The miracle turns sour when the bewildered virtuoso can no longer play the piano, but finds himself compulsively throwing knives. Preposterous? Sure, but this story has been made into three films: you couldn't wish for neater evidence of Hollywood's strange love affair with the embattled gods of the keyboard.

LETTER : Scholarship without borders Scandal? We aid scholarship

The appropriate word to characterize the acquisition of contemporary literary archives by American research libraries is hardly "scandal" ("The scandal of Britain's lost literary archives", 8 December). If indeed it were a scandal, you're rather late in reporting it. The Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center has been acquiring, cataloguing and preserving the literary archives of British writers for over 40 years; George Bernard Shaw, D H Lawrence, Elizabeth Bowen, Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh, Paul Scott, Edith Sitwell and Virginia Woolf are a few of nearly 100 modern British writers whose papers are held at the Center.

OPERA Oedipus Rex / Silent Prologue Chatelet, Paris

"I am strongly of the opinion that the channel tunnel should be proceeded with at once." So wrote George Bernard Shaw in 1890 (under his pseudonym Corno di Basseto) upon returning from seeing Saint-Saens's Ascanio in Paris. Over a century later, and having viewed a rather different opera in the form of Stravinksy's Oedipus Rex, I should like to add that I am strongly of the opinion that the high-speed rail link should be proceeded with at once.

THEATRE Mrs Warren's Profession Lyric Hammersmith

You come back from a long absence to discover that, while you've been away, your little daughter has grown up into Margaret Hilda Roberts. A joyless go-getter, she mounts her soapbox and shrilly inveighs against your way of life which, indeed, has owed little to the dictates of strict Methodism but has, at least, provided the earnings that have paid for her education. This nightmare scenario has not been prompted by Clare Short's recent, infectiously happy experience of discovering a Tory-inclined son. Rather, it's what springs to mind watching Neil Bartlett's very interesting revival of Mrs Warren's Profession, the Shaw play in which a 22-year-old Newnham graduate, Vivie Warren, rejects her mother when she learns that her money is made from a syndicate of brothels.

THEATRE: Mrs Warren's Profession by George Bernard Shaw,

Mrs Warren's Profession
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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment