The Heir Apparent: A Life of Edward VII, the Playboy Prince by Jane Ridley
Royal Cousins at War a BBC documentary directed by Richard Sanders
In Search of Rex Whistler: His Life and His Work by Hugh and Mirabel Cecil
Rex Whistler: A Talent Cut Short an exhibition at the Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum, Salisbury, England, May 24–September 29, 2013
P.G. Wodehouse: A Life in Letters edited by Sophie Ratcliffe
The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill, Defender of the Realm, 1940–1965 by William Manchester and Paul Reid
Dial M for Murdoch: News Corporation and the Corruption of Britain by Tom Watson and Martin Hickman
Side by Side: Parallel Narratives of Israel-Palestine by Sami Adwan, Dan Bar-On, and Eyal Naveh
To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914–1918 by Adam Hochschild
Dance of the Furies: Europe and the Outbreak of World War I by Michael S. Neiberg
A Journey: My Political Life by Tony Blair
The Third Man: Life at the Heart of New Labour by Peter Mandelson
The End of the Party: The Rise and Fall of New Labour by Andrew Rawnsley
The Icarus Syndrome: A History of American Hubris by Peter Beinart
Benjamin Disraeli by Adam Kirsch
For Your Eyes Only: Ian Fleming and James Bond
For Your Eyes Only: Ian Fleming and James Bond by Ben Macintyre
Devil May Care by Sebastian Faulks, writing as Ian Fleming
Agent Zigzag: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love, and Betrayal by Ben Macintyre
ZigZag: The Incredible Wartime Exploits of Double Agent Eddie Chapman by Nicholas Booth
Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat: The Dire Warning by John Lukacs
Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II, the End of Civilization by Nicholson Baker
The Character Factory: Baden-Powell and the Origins of the Boy Scout Movement by Michael Rosenthal
A new exhibition at the J. Paul Getty Museum brings to light Queen Victoria’s passion for photography, and the ways in which she helped shape the medium’s development.
One of the best traditions of English public life is the official inquiry, sometimes parliamentary, sometimes judicial. What gives inquiries their value isn’t the conclusions they come to, which can be perverse or distorted by partisanship, but the evidence they hear and place on record. And so with the Leveson inquiry into the press. Whatever recommendations Lord Justice Leveson eventually makes, we have been spellbound by the testimony he has heard. To add a certain amusement value, the last few weeks have been notable for utterly contradictory testimony from different witnesses, several of them present or former leaders of the country. Someone is being economical with the truth, or just lying.
Along with the other media he has mastered, from tabloids to satellite television, Rupert Murdoch has recently taken to Twitter. On February 15, he tweeted, “To hell with politicians! When are we going to find some to tell the truth in any country? Don’t hold your breath.” His words remind us yet again that Murdoch is a man of iron nerve, not say brass neck, though they might also suggest a degree of delusion. Throughout his career, every time he has come near calamity, that gambler’s strong nerve has always somehow managed to rescue him. But the concatenation of scandal and disaster that has now engulfed his News International group—which owns the Sun and the now-defunct News of the World as well as the London Times and other papers—is of a different order.
The real story is not Murdoch’s papers and the repulsive methods used by their reporters: it’s the force and blatancy of Murdoch’s political influence through those papers. Although responsibility for the appalling conduct of his papers ultimately rests with Murdoch, the blame for the way he has exercised so much indirect political power lies with those politicians who have for so long knelt before him. Cameron is the latest, and may yet prove the greatest casualty. But it must be said that not even Cameron was as cynical and unprincipled in his dealings with Murdoch as Tony Blair had been.
This year the Bath Mozartfest, from November 13 to 21, is marking its silver anniversary. Maybe the festival should be called Mozart plus, as the repertory is much wider than one composer.
Much of the liveliest operatic and other vocal action in the British Isles takes place away from Covent Garden: down the road at the English National Opera, in Cardiff, imminently in Oxford, and then in Ireland.
Glyndebourne has played an important part in expanding the operatic repertory. This year’s festival opened with a fine revival of Carmen, but the keenest interest has been in a new production of Donizetti’s Poliuto.
To walk five minutes from the National Gallery to the National Portrait Gallery is to experience a sorrowful kind of culture shock.
A new production of The Mastersingers of Nuremberg has opened at the English National Opera, to loud critical applause.
This year is the centenary of the Great War, but there has been another anniversary scarcely less important in British history: the Hanoverian tercentenary.
Too much English musical life is concentrated in London, but over the next few weeks metropolitan music lovers will do well to head west from Paddington station.
Considering his stature as one of the greatest Italian painters, it may seem curious that there had been no major Veronese exhibition in England before this year, and that the Verona show is the first in Italy since before the Second World War.
This year’s Glyndebourne Festival Opera marked the festival’s 80th anniversary, and the 20th of the brilliant new opera house designed by Hopkins Associates, possibly the best postwar theatre in Europe. But it opened in poignant circumstances.
On Saturday May 24 the final of the inter-European club competition first played fifty-eight years ago as the European Cup and known since 1992 as the Champions League will be played for the first time ever by two teams from the same city.
This show demonstrates the deep Classical roots of early Renaissance art, as Roman statuary came to light and stimulated the fifteenth-century flowering of sculpture at the hands of Della Robbia, Donatello, Ghiberti and others.
Few places could be more apt for performing the music of the Enlightenment epoch than Bath. It’s a Georgian city, where Georgian — or classical — music was performed at the time, and has been since.
Whistler belongs to a tradition of English romanticism which continued after the war with Michael Ayrton and John Minton, and even Lucian Freud, a romanticism which is heightened by the poignancy of Whistler’s short life, and his death.
A number of concert performances at this year’s Proms raise the question of whether opera directors—or even staged performances—are really necessary.
This is the place for those whose aural palates are jaded by commercialized opera, and who find the human voice at its most beautiful in art song.
Two shows of the paintings of Giambattista Tiepolo have been staged at Udine. Together they encourage a visitor to explore all the other work by the painter strewn around Udine, which may well be the least frequented Italian city with such riches.
When we admire the beauty and intricacy of bronze sculptures in great museums we may not think much about the medium itself, but we can think harder at the astonishing exhibition called simply “Bronze.”
We live in an age of great Schubertians, few more remarkable than Paul Lewis. Touring internationally, at venues famous and obscure, he has worked his way through the Schubert canon, and has now reached the three great last sonatas.
The most eagerly awaited performance of this year’s BBC Proms is undoubtedly Bernard Haitink conducting the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in Bruckner’s Ninth Symphony, preceded by Murray Perahia playing Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto.
Maurice Ravel wrote only two operas, entirely different but both perfect one-act miniatures, now on display in a new double-bill at Glyndebourne.
No opera means more to Glyndebourne than Le nozze di Figaro, conducted this summer by Robin Ticciati.