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.

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The phoney war is over

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

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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
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