The gingko became a ubiquitous presence in modern life – whether in sculpture form or as a smart drug.
King Charles II
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Saturday 21 May 2011
The British aristocracy consumed human flesh, a new book on medicinal cannibalism reveals.
Friday 25 March 2011
One's book of a lifetime should become a total obsession – a work that leaves you seeing the world through different eyes. For me, it's the unexpurgated 'Diary of Samuel Pepys'. Completing the 11-volume set challenges even the most dedicated, but the entries are so vivid and comprehensive that the readers feel almost as if we're living a parallel life.
Friday 12 November 2010
Andrew Marvell was a great poet, but not an especially nice man. He had few friends, and did not trust people easily. He was also an angry man, and his immediate posthumous reputation was based on a series of sharp satires. As Nigel Smith shows in this profound and often moving biography, Marvell's anger came from hurt and disappointment. He grew up a clever clergyman's son in flourishing Hull, where he went to school with richer boys. Marvell's life illustrates the idea that to become a great poet some setbacks in youth are required. The loss of his father in 1641 in a boating accident left him desolate; he never entirely recovered.
Friday 13 August 2010
Anthony Capella's gastro-romance explores the unexpectedly heated history of ice cream. When a young Italian kitchen hand, Carlo Demirco, arrives at the court of Louis XIV, he works with the King's "limonadier" perfecting the art of chilled cordials and sorbets.
Monday 09 August 2010
The silly season is upon us. And so begins a three-part series dedicated entirely to hair – ready-to-hair!
Friday 06 August 2010
Thursday 13 May 2010
When a public figure dies, the whole of his life flashes before other people's eyes. So hours after the Prime Minister's post-dated political demise, a kneejerk appreciation called Gordon Brown: a Political Life was rushed on to Radio 4. Yet although Shaun Ley's programme contained a perfectly comprehensive checklist of all the delights of Brown's years in office – Bigotgate, psychological flaws, Forces of Hell, moral compass, smile – it had a perfunctory air that suggested now was not the best time to take the measure of the man. And that is the problem with living in interesting times. Achieving perspective from the middle of a political avalanche is a challenge and the Today programme has coped better than most. Unlike the TV studios, where captive politicians can sit for hours repeating formulas on a loop, Today's presenters have been far sharper than their televisual equivalents. When Paddy Ashdown came on with a lofty peroration about how he could not possibly reveal his own position, Nick Robinson was as cutting as a kitchen knife. "We can hear what you're saying, Paddy, and so can the rest of the country."
Friday 07 May 2010
As a clapped out-regime falls apart, "a young, charismatic man is called to power". But what happens when "the fireworks fade and the euphoria cools"? Jenny Uglow, the learned, stylish doyenne of biographers, turns her hand to Charles II and the decade after his 1660 Restoration.
Friday 07 May 2010
The ballot counters sit facing the observers across the tables. Up in the bar, behind the glass wall, observers look down. I look up, observing the observers observing the observers. But who's observing me?
Monday 05 October 2009
Saturday 18 July 2009
Tuesday 30 June 2009
Saturday 02 May 2009
In the 341 years since King Charles II appointed John Dryden as his Poet Laureate, the title has passed along an uninterrupted line of men – some very gifted, but too many of them mediocrities, whose only talent was to pay homage to the self-important. In Carol Ann Duffy we now have a Poet Laureate who, as well as being the first woman in the post, and of Scottish working-class stock, has a wonderful way of puncturing egos.
Friday 30 January 2009
One of the nation's best-loved poets and a favourite to take over as poet laureate has called for the position to be abolished.
- 2 'Sickening, deluded and unforgivable': Horrific attack brings terror to London’s streets
- 4 Woolwich murder: They killed, then they performed - these men should be starved of our attention
- 5 Woolwich attack: The EDL will seek to exploit this evil crime for their own evil ends
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