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
3.	Provence 6 nights B&B by train from £599pp
Prices correct as of 20 February 2015
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003