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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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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