King Henry VIII

Once a Redgrave: Joely Richardson on playing the role made famous by

Joely Richardson is a scion of England's grandest theatrical family, with a glittering career to match. But recent years have brought the deaths of the actress's sister, uncle and aunt. Arifa Akbar finds her in a pensive mood on the eve of her return to the London stage.

Can Barritt solve central issue?

Unfairly maligned as one-dimensional by some, Saracens' South African-born No 12 may actually provide an answer to England's long-standing problem position

Beowulf, OMG!: Hip-hop artist Akala tracks the development of English

Shakespeare has an image problem – but it's all just bad marketing, really. Who was he? Who was his audience? What was London like when he was writing? Despite the factual information to the contrary, the average person's answer to these questions may read: some aristocrat educated at Oxford; the rich and powerful of his day; awfully civilised.

Harriet Walker: It's not easy being Eliza Doolittle

Any girl feels like a new season debutante when she meets the parents. Knowing when to simper and when to smile, at what moment to tinkle out a little giggle or how to pronounce that fancy French thing on the menu – all require a social deftness and lightness of touch that you either have or you don't. S'a matter of breeding, innit.

The Diary: Alison Weir; Tate Modern; Saltmine Theatre Company;

The history writer Alison Weir tells me no sooner had she finished her latest novel on Eleanor of Aquitaine, The Captive Queen, than she started work on a biography of Mary Boleyn (the "other" Boleyn girl). What she will do first is argue that the portrait of Anne Boleyn's sister that is labelled as "Mary Boleyn" at Heaver Castle is not Mary at all. "I just think it's been accepted that it is. In the 18th century, the subject of the painting was regarded as Mary Boleyn but before that they thought it was Anne Boleyn." Her research on Mary began in the 1970s, but put to one side until now. Due to be published in autumn 2011, the book will be called Mary Boleyn – The Great Infamous Whore, is, according to Weir, what the king of France called her. "She was his mistress as well as a mistress to King Henry VIII". It sounds as if the book is a radical reappraisal of Anne Boleyn's sister. "There are a lot of misconceptions about her in film, TV and novels. I'm giving some preliminary lectures on my findings in May. These will be a teaser for what's to come. I think [the book] will change our views on her."

More headlines