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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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