Earlier this week, my girlfriend and I toured around Yorkshire and Northumberland, once the stronghold of English medieval monasticism. We visited the beautiful ruins of Rievaulx Abbey, which once boasted the biggest church in England. As we wandered around the ruins, I wondered what we lost, when Henry VIII dissolved more than 1000 monasteries in Read more…

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Jane Davis says that literature saved her life. She grew up in a broken home, with a single mum who died of alcoholism. She left home and lived in squats, with a husband who also eventually died of substance abuse. She was helped by a Women’s Liberation group and then went to study English Literature Read more…

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One of the non-fiction writers of my generation who I most admire / envy / emulate – Jonah Lehrer – has just performed one of the steepest plummets from grace I’ve ever seen. At 31, Lehrer had already authored three best sellers: Why Proust Was a Neuroscientist, How We Decide, and Imagine, which came out Read more…

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I saw Shakespeare’s Richard II for the first time this weekend, via the BBC production with Ben Whishaw in the lead role. He was exceptionally good, as was the whole production. But it was the play itself which stood out – so intelligent, so radical, so well constructed. It re-kindled the flames of my admiration Read more…

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Last weekend I had a piece in the FT on the rise of philosophy clubs, which included some great quotes from Melvyn Bragg, one of the leading arts commentators in the UK. I thought readers might like to read the whole interview with him, so here it is! JE: In your TV show on class Read more…

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