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Victoria: A Life by AN Wilson review

Bad behaviour, pan‑European politics and a rich, inward life – a queen is reinterpreted in this shimmering new biography.

Under a Mackerel Sky by Rick Stein Jump to: navigation, search

Rick Stein was born if not to wealth then certainly to privilege. He was raised on an Oxfordshire farm and spent holidays at the family's home in Cornwall.

Prison Diaries review Denis MacShane's account of life behind bars

Though the former MP still seems in denial about his expenses fiddle, his observations of the futility of jail are poignantAlthough I found Denis MacShane an assiduous and engaging colleague with a track record of support for many good causes, he has alwa

Book review: Philip Larkin

‘LARKIN’S reputation as a poet is secure. His reputation as a man is, however, in a less healthy state,” says James Booth in the introduction to this new biography. An understatement in both cases. Actually, Larkin’s poetry is loved more and more

Philip Larkin: Life, Art and Love review James Booth's life of the poet is wide of the mark

Except when dealing with the poetry itself, James Booth's biography of Philip Larkin reaches some muddled conclusionsAs treasurer of the Oxford English Club, the young Philip Larkin met several famous writers, among them Lord Berners, George Orwell and, m

Churchill's Iceman: The True Story of Geoffrey Pyke - Henry Hemming

there is no reason why you should have heard of Geoffrey Pyke. After his suicide in 1948 he was described as one of the great geniuses of his time, to rank alongside Einstein, yet he remains today, as The Times put it, 'one of the most original if unrecog

Beethoven: Anguish and Triumph - Jan Swafford

Jan Swafford's biographies of Charles Ives and Johannes Brahms have established him as a revered music historian, capable of bringing his subjects vibrantly to life. His magnificent new biography of Ludwig van Beethoven peels away layers of legend to get

Churchill's Iceman: The True Story of Geoffrey Pyke: Genius, Fugitive, Spy review

This biography of a wartime master of problem solving reads wonderfully like an adventure storyIn the spring of 1943 chief of Combined Operations "Dickie" Mountbatten advanced into Winston Churchill's bathroom announcing that he had "a block of a new mate

The Novel: a Biography by Michael Schmidt review a compelling yet limited survey

How has fiction changed down the ages? This ambitious study is fascinating on the great novelists but fails to capture the inner life of the formCan a history of the novel ever be written? The quantity of reading is inconceivable. I suppose people who say