Lord Berners – The man who left Lesbos

Steerforth remembers one of the more flamboyant dabblers of the 20th century... One of the most colourful and unjustly forgotten characters of the last century is Lord Berners. Born Gerald Hugh Tyrwhitt-Wilson in 1883, Berners went to Eton and worked as a diplomat until he inherited his title. For the remainder of ... Read More...

Adrian Carton de Wiart: Happy Odyssey

Gaw pays tribute to one of the most remarkable soldiers this country has produced... Adrian Carton de Wiart's soldiering career extended from Boer to Second World Wars, taking in many events of large historical importance. He was usually to be found in the thick of the action, winning a VC during the ... Read More...

Eric Ravilious’ Wood Engravings

  Nige enjoys the masterful wood engravings of the great Eric Ravilious... One of the most welcome birthday presents I've ever received was a handsome volume of Eric Ravilious Wood Engravings, beautifully produced by the Mainstone Press. The versatile and prolific Ravilious was as naturally gifted a wood engraver as he was a watercolorist, ... Read More...

Churchill’s Great Contemporaries: Welsh Wizardry

On the anniversary of Churchill's death we pick out some highlights from his portraits of the era's great men. Here's how David Lloyd George's mysterious Welsh wiles confounded a very grand statesman... I’ve just finished reading Churchill’s Great Contemporaries, a collection of biographical essays. You rapidly realise how he managed to earn huge sums from ... Read More...

Marianne North – Globetrotting Flower-painter

Nige pays tribute to the extraordinary Victorian spinster, globetrotter, botanist, artist and 'very wild bird', Marianne North... Tomorrow marks the birthday of the brilliant flower painter and tireless traveller Marianne North (born 1830), who, even by the standards of intrepid, globetrotting Victorian spinsters, was pretty extraordinary. In an age before jet ... Read More...

Christopher Ricks on Keats and Embarrassment

Nige salutes the extraordinary lit-crit of Christopher Ricks... Despite the heat having knocked out most of the thinking parts of my brain, I've been reading (technically re-reading, as I read it when it came out some 40 - 40! - years ago) Christopher Ricks's Keats and Embarrassment. It presents the poet's ... Read More...

John Newton – Amazing Life

Today is the 189th birthday of John Newton, a man whose life, even in outline, reads like fiction. Born on this day in 1725 into a family of merchants, John Newton went to sea with his father at the age of 11, was later press-ganged into the Royal Navy, attempted to ... Read More...

Dame Barbara Cartland: Pioneer of Aerotowing

It's Barbara Cartland's birthday! Nige celebrates Britain's most multi-'talented' Dame.... Had she not been cruelly plucked from us at the age of 98, Dame Barbara Cartland - socialite, celebrity, figure of fun, self-appointed expert on many things, tireless self-publicist and staggeringly prolific romantic novelist - would have been 113 today. She ... Read More...