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
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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 15 May 2015
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory