Arts and Entertainment

Private Alex Stringer, of the Royal Logistic Corps, was 20 when he was blown up in Afghanistan: "The reason I lost my left leg so high up is because the burning paint cooked my left leg all the way down to the bone. But if I hadn't set myself on fire, I would have bled out and died – as a result of it, all the arteries became cauterised".

Review: Solo, By William Boyd

Boyd’s Bond is driven but torn

Barbara Taylor Bradford: 'People think I do very little work, but I do 12 hours a day'

I'm surprised I haven't run out of ideas Right now I have seven ideas for novels on bits of paper. I'm prolific: I've been writing for 34 years and right now I'm writing my 29th novel.

Book of a lifetime: The Transit of Venus by Shirley Hazzard

When I first read The Transit of Venus, I was rather underwhelmed. I was in my twenties then and recently back in Australia after a period when I had thought I would make my life in France. I came to Shirley Hazzard's third novel by way of The Bay of Noon and The Evening of the Holiday. These ravishing early novels, both set in Italy, fed my nostalgia for Europe. I identified intensely with their young female protagonists whose private dramas were lifted into grandeur by the antique backgrounds against which they played out.

MI6: Life and Death in the British Secret Service, By Gordon Corera

The move of MI6 in the late Nineties from modest, relatively covert premises (though bus conductors were prone to yell, "Spies alight here") to one of the most glossily ostentatious buildings in London was not welcomed by many of the staff, who referred to their new home as Legoland.

Young Philby, By Robert Littell

Can this espionage story of the mythic Kim Philby give us something new?
Playwright William Boyd

William Boyd: From Chaplin to Chekhov

'Longing', a play based on two short stories, opens next year, the writer tells Susie Mesure

A bedroom in Habanavista

B&B and Beyond: Habanavista, Havana

A penthouse overlooking Havana's Malecón seaside wall is a new breed of 'casa particular', says Claire Boobbyer

James Tait Black Prize: Six authors shortlisted for Britain's oldest literary award

Six renowned authors from the past century have been shortlisted for a prize to recognise the best ever winner of Britain's oldest literary award.

Glamour sheen: With shades of gold, slate and tumeric and a simple pattern, this Persephone wallpaper by Clarissa Hulse adds a touch of glamour without dominating a space, £48, clarissahulse.com

All hung up for autumn

From swirls of colour to geometric metal patterns, Trish Lorenz unrolls the latest wallpaper trends

Richard Attenborough in the classic 1947 film 'Brighton Rock'

Information Commissioner confesses: Motorman case is too big for us to handle

Christopher Graham tells Leveson Inquiry that tackling case of private eye Whittamore is 'impractical'

Susie Rushton: Holiday reading is hard work

My best holiday memories aren't of sunsets or dolphin sightings but of wallowing in the shallow end of a swimming pool, giant inflatable ring wrapped around my middle, my face shaded by a fat paperback. I can't brag about the quantity of my beach reading like some: I'm slow, easily distracted, and usually only notch up two novels over a fortnight's break even while my hungrier holiday companions tear through one Penguin Classic after another.

DVD: Brighton Rock, For retail & rental (Optimum)

This fabulously over-ripe adaptation of Graham Greene's razors'n'rosaries gangster novel starts as a cheeky film-noir homage, but it soon tips over into self-parody: no scene is complete without some rolling thunder, some religious icons, and music so bombastic that Dr Frankenstein would have it on his laboratory iPod.

The Blagger's Guide To...Mervyn Peake

A great talent as writer, illustrator – and father
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
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Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
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Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
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Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
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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
Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone