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Books

BBC presenter Andrew Marr at the Royal Maundy Service at Westminster Abbey, London.

“We’ve all been too disconnected”: Andrew Marr says politics must change as reality outpaces fiction

As Andrew Marr notes, there are relatively few novels about politics, but the climate couldn’t be better for his debut effort.

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Arabella Weir

Arabella Weir digs up parental problems to find she’s still a teen at heart

Arabella Weir’s debut kids’ novel required her to mentally wriggle into the unflattering school uniform of teenager Tabitha Baird. But the Crouch End actress and writer says it wasn’t much of an imaginative stretch because part of her has never really grown up.

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Sita Bramachari, author of Red Leaves

Sita Brahmachari looks to ‘spooky’ Queens Wood in unifying tale of cultural diversity

Sita Brahmachari’s fourth novel unites a homeless Scottish teen, a wealthy child of divorce and a Somalian refugee with a common need for a place to call home.

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Mark McCrum

Literary festival: Writer Mark McCrum reveals the ghost behind words of Robbie Williams

Rarely seen or heard celebrity ghost writers almost never get their chance to reveal their secrets and experiences of sitting with some of this country’s best known stars.

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book and pic and pic of lady antonia fraser

Literary festival: Earl Spencer finds his sympathies lie with killers of a king

One of the most turbulent and bloody periods in English history ended with the previously unimaginable spectacle of King Charles I’s public beheading. Our civil war and transition from Monarchy to a Commonwealth was effectively a military-backed regime change.

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Nick Harkaway

Literary festival: Revolution starts with parenthood, says Tigerman author Nick Harkaway

According to a website Nick Harkaway recently checked, the median age for a Hampstead resident like himself is 38. While he guardedly admits to being a little older, it is nonetheless a stage in life at which fatherhood – a recurring theme in his latest novel, Tigerman – becomes a common issue.

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Thomas Cromwell. Picture credit: National Portrait Gallery London

Literary festival: Tracy Borman investigates ‘family man’ image of Thomas Cromwell inspired by Wolf Hall

In the last few years, Britain has fallen victim to medieval madness. With the success of George R. R. Martin’s historical fantasy novels, A Song Of Ice and Fire – and their TV adaptation Game Of Thrones – as well as Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies, the zeitgeist has never been riper for Tudor historian Tracy Borman.

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Irma Kurtz

Literary festival: Agony Aunt Irma Kurtz reveals what it takes for millions to trust your advice

Irma Kurtz, the doyenne of agony aunts, with more than 40 years’ experience, is recalling just some of the letters she has read.

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Zoom Rockman

Literary festival: Beano writer Zoom Rockman draws Haringey into his comic book world

Read any issue of Zoom Rockman’s comic series and you’ll soon forget this prodigious talent has only just turned 14.

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Jenny Molloy (Left) and daughter Lauren (right) and granddaughter Lily (centre)

Literary festival: Hope Daniels discusses social care misery of childhood years in Hackney

The candour with which Jenny Molloy talks about her life and the notoriously secret care system which she has been a part of – both as a child and now a consultant – is refreshing.

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Queen Anne studio of John Closterman oil on canvas, (circa 1702). Picture courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery London

Forgotten story of ‘cursed’ queen who lost 17 children brought to life by John-Paul Flintoff

As royal tragedies go, the story of Queen Anne is one of the greatest never told. The daughter of the deposed and exiled James II, she eventually succeeded her cousin William III to rule for 12 years at the start of the 18th century.

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Graham Swift Photo credit: Janus van den Eijnden.

Booker prize winner Graham Swift’s new short stories provide ‘shots of emotion to the arm’

Graham Swift, the Booker Prize-winning author, is by his own admission not keen on promoting his work publicly. In an interview five years ago, he confessed to being drawn to writing because of the solitude and privacy an author finds at work. He then almost ruefully added: “Publishing means going public.”

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Oggy Boytchev with John Simpson in Afghanistan

The Bulgarian asylum seeker who became BBC icon John Simpson’s right hand man in Iraq and beyond

Tucked away in the serene streets of Belsize Park, the home of Oggy Boytchev is a treat to behold. Towering in that period red-brick style so typical of the area, its inside is a veritable treasure trove, with paintings by Barbara Hepworth and Julian Opie taking pride of place in the living room above a host of ornate antique furniture.

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Music See all

Manics; May 1991. Picture: Kevin Cummins

Glamorous anarchy of early Manic Street Preachers revealed in new photo exhibition

Back in 1991, the British music scene was still riding on the baggy tails of Madchester while its natural successor, the emerging rave scene, was just starting to build momentum.

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Theatre See all

national youth theatre performs Selfie

Theatre review: Selfie at Ambassadors Theatre

The National Youth Theatre’s modern take on The Picture of Dorian Grey, is confident and energetic. Loud and clear, it proclaims that, in spite of different times, different mores, technical advances, the human race has learned nothing since Oscar Wilde wrote the original story. We are vain, greedy, self-deluding, superficial, cruel and stupid – and the cause of our own downfall.

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Art See all

Jermiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem by Rembrandt

Early Rembrandts to show at Kenwood House this month

Two early works by Rembrandt go on display at Kenwood House this month thanks to reciprocal loans by The National Gallery and Rijksmuseum. Visitors to the Grade I-listed house on Hampstead Heath can see two works by the Dutch master, both dating from around 1630.

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