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On a per capita basis, the nation has all the ingredients to be one of the world's most prosperous nations

Postcard from... Ubeda

The Victorian in the Wall at the Royal Court

Theatre review: The Victorian in the Wall, Royal Court Theatre, London

When Dominic Cooke took over at the Royal Court, he said he wanted to stage more plays about “what it means to be middle class”. Now, as the reins of artistic director pass to Vicky Featherstone, comes possibly the most middle-class play of his era - and very funny on the topic it is too.

Professor Philip Ford: Scholar of the Renaissance

Philip Ford, Professor of French and Neo-Latin Literature at the University of Cambridge, was a distinguished scholar of Renaissance literature and culture. He enriched the study of French Renaissance literature with his interest in neo-Latin literature and the reception of ancient Latin and Greek literature in early modern Europe.

Dan Brown's Inferno: Dante-inspired book set for release day bonanza

Review: Inferno - Dan Brown's Dante-inspired novel is clunky but clever and will undoubtedly heat up pundits

On page 334 of Inferno, Dan Brown's tweedy Harvard iconographer Robert Langdon reveals to Sienna Brooks - a British-born misfit genius who gallops around three favourite tourist destinations with him in this latest adventure - that "We're in the wrong country". Cue a flight out of Venice, where a plot rammed to bursting-point with guide-book factoids and the vintage formulae of apocalyptic science-fiction has shifted from its opening location in Florence.

Fly away: Tom Riley plays a young Leonardo embroiled in intrigue

TV review: Da Vinci's Demons - Raffish romp through the Renaissance

The genius of Leonardo da Vinci is disguised somewhat in this cheerfully anachronistic tale of his encounters with the Medicis

Madonna and Child, 2011 by Celia Paul

Art review: Celia Paul: Recent Work and Separation, Marlborough Fine Art, London

Celia Paul is the least noisy portrait painter in oils imaginable. Her subjects - which usually tend to be relatives, close friends or herself - exist within a kind of religiose hush of rapt self-absorption.

William Shakespeare may have been related to Jane Shaxpere, a two-year-old girl who drowned after falling into a mill pond while picking flowers

Shakespeare the 'hard-headed businessman' uncovered

Hoarder, moneylender, tax dodger — it's not how we usually think of William Shakespeare.

Artist Michael Craig-Martin in his studio

In The Studio: Michael Craig-Martin, artist

‘The bottom line is the willingness  of the viewer to make a leap of faith’

Photography book: The Black Kingdom, By Brian Griffin

In 2010, the innovative Black Country-raised portrait photographer Brian Griffin was commissioned to create a site-specific installation for an arts centre in a restored Cistercian abbey near Notre Dame, Paris.

Jorge Mario Bergoglio: First Latin American, first Jesuit and first Pope Francis to lead the world's Catholics

Pope Francis began his first morning as pontiff by praying at Rome's main basilica as he started the first day of what is expected to be a challenging papacy.

English Heritage disappointed after Eric Pickles gives go-ahead for controversial Liverpool skyscraper development

English Heritage expressed its disappointment today after Communities Secretary Eric Pickles gave the go-ahead to a controversial skyscraper development on the banks of the Mersey fuelling fears that Liverpool’s historic waterfront will now be stripped of its World Heritage Status.

Federico Barocci’s Rest on the Return from Egypt

Charles Darwent on art: Barocci, Brilliance and Grace - For my next trick, the start of the Baroque!

Once famous for his pretty pink Madonnas, a neglected Italian painter has a deeper humanity which inspired Rubens – and led an entire generation

In The Beginning Was The End, Somerset House, London

Theatre-goers are used to solicitous, nannying notices about strobe-lighting, nudity and even cigarette-smoking at the entrance to productions.

Many ancient manuscripts at the Ahmed Baba library in Timbuktu were destroyed by the Islamist fighters

Mali's religious scholars cunningly save ancient Islamic manuscripts from Salafist fighters in Timbuktu

The home of Dramane Maulvi Haidara is down a dusty alleyway of pot-holes with an open drain alongside. There, behind a heavy wooden door studded with metal in a dark, windowless room, lay a rich treasure trove that has been guarded with utmost care from a determined enemy.

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Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
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Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
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Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
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L to R: Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Captain America (Chris Evans) & Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) in Avengers Assemble
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Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
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Pharrell Williams' “Happy” was the most searched-for song lyric of 2014
musicThe power of song never greater, according to our internet searches
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Tim Sherwood raises his hand after the 1-0 victory over Stoke
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Career Services

Day In a Page

Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015