Arts and Entertainment

I hadn't realised – until I read this book – how much work Henry VIII's marital problems caused the stonemasons of Hampton Court. After years of carving the letters H&C all over the place, Henry got rid of Catherine of Aragon, so the Cs had to be reworked as As. But, no sooner was the last A in place than Anne Boleyn was executed on Tower Hill and the As had to become Js to suit Jane Seymour, who promptly died in childbirth. And there were still three more queens to go, so, lots more chiseling, presumably.

Love Letters of Great Men – for real

There is scene in the film Sex and the City that has sent its mostly female fans crowding into bookshops, only to emerge empty-handed. Carrie Bradshaw, played by Sarah Jessica Parker, is lying in bed next to her lover, Mr Big (Chris Noth), reading extracts from an interesting-looking book called Love Letters of Great Men.

Tudor terror: John Guy is on a mission to bring history to the masses

Forgery, forgotten evidence and mouse-droppings – Tudor expert John Guy has made all sorts of unsavoury discoveries down in the National Archives. He tells Mark Bostridge why he's on a mission to bring Tudor history to the masses, and where David Starkey got it wrong

The Pain and the Privilege, by Ffion Hague

The women behind a wizard

The Other Boleyn Girl (12A)

Keep it in your codpiece, Henry

Amenable women, by Mavis Cheek

You don't have to be beautiful to have a good grasp of feminine wiles

Ben Hur star Charlton Heston dies

Charlton Heston, who won the 1959 best actor Oscar as the chariot-racing Ben Hur and portrayed Moses, Michelangelo, El Cid and other figures in Hollywood epics of the 1950s and 60s, has died aged 84, his family said today.

Paperback: Henry VIII's Last Victim, by Jessie Childs

For anyone craving yet another Tudor hit, the snake-pit of Henrician politics is exposed in Jessie Child's elegant biography of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey. An aristocratic courtier and soldier and a talented sonneteer, Surrey introduced blank verse into English poetry. While his poetry was sensitive, his behaviour verged on the preposterous. Present at the execution of his cousins Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, he was himself was beheaded for treason in 1547. In the process of debunking this romantic hero, Child also offers plenty of empathetic insights into the 16th-century mind.

Why poetry still matters, by Boyd Tonkin

From Beowulf to Philip Larkin, poetry's past haunts its present. Below, Andrew Motion, Bonnie Greer, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Culture Secretary on the poems that changed their lives

Natalie Portman - more than a woman

She loved being a scheming Tudor temptress but that's not all Natalie Portman is interested in

A Christmas visitor, by Matt Thorne

For weeks we've been exhorting you to spend, spend, spend, but now that the presents have (with any luck) been bought and the preparations are complete, it's time to ponder the deeper meaning of Christmas. We asked our favourite writers to rant, reflect or reminisce on a festive theme. As Ronald Hutton explains, the last thing you should feel at this time of year is guilty, so sit down with a mince pie and enjoy

Leading article: Culture club

Young fogeys up and down the land will be harrumphing into their pipes at the news. According to the Economic and Social Research Council, there is no such thing as a "cultural elite". The idea that there exists an entire class of people in society who are only interested in the highest forms of art and who avoid mass culture is, apparently, a groundless stereotype.

The Weasel: Tower of Power

Contrary to historical precedent, Mrs W lost her head before she went to the Tower of London. The chain of events leading to her decapitation, which I hasten to add was metaphorical, began when she overcame a lifelong fear of heights and took the brave step of acquiring a pair of high heels. The elegant footwear in black suede was then allowed to mature in its box for about six months. But when we were invited to the Tabasco Club’s supper at the Tower, she decided that the time had arrived for the great unveiling.

Laax: Experience adrenalin-fuelled snowboarding in Switzerland

Laax is hosting Britain's snowboard and freestyle skiing championships for the third year in a row. Tam Leach finds out what makes the Swiss resort such a winner
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Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine