The History of Smoking

  'If I’m a failed smoker it’s not because I haven’t tried...' - Douglas is talking tobacco... My wife had a teenage crush on James Dean. She confided it to her father who latched onto the idea and bought her anything he could find bearing the beloved likeness. Grateful for his generosity, ... 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...

The Christmas Ghost Story

Professor Nick Groom explains the English tradition of the Christmas Eve ghost story... The nights are long and dark, the wind is bitter chill, the leafless trees are rimed with ice: winter has arrived with a sudden ferocity. What better than to lock the doors, curl up beside a log fire, ... Read More...

The knowledgeable Mr Sylvester Patridge

Frank is handing over responsibility for his correspondence to an 18th century chap called Patridge (or possibly Partridge - there's a fair chance he misspelled his own name)... I regularly receive letters from readers, both of The Dabbler and of my own Hooting Yard blog, imploring me to offer advice on ... Read More...