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Books

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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John Steinberg Photo credit: Dieter Perry

The story of Shimon inspires Hampstead author to greater heights

It is not hard to see the reasons why first-time author John Steinberg loves the story of Talmudic figure Shimon ben Lakish’s journey from gladiator to sage.

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plus her painting Sylvia 2010

Regent’s Park happenings of Plath, Dickens, Woolf and Eliot brought to life through art

Plath, Dickens, Woolf, Eliot and Stevie Smith are among the authors who have written either in or about Regent’s Park. Now Hampstead artist Sarah Pickstone has compiled a book that brings together her paintings of the Royal Park with the writings that inspired them.

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Music See all

Royal Blood - Royal Blood

Album review: Royal Blood - Royal Blood

A searing, exciting and uncompromising debut from the new darlings of rock.

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Theatre See all

Roger Allam in Seminar at Hampstead Theatre

Game of Thrones and The Thick of It star Roger Allam returns to stage for Seminar

In his latest role at Hampstead Theatre, Roger Allam plays a cantankerous former novelist all too happy to destroy the hopes and pretences of those who gather at his feet for advice. As a star of both stage and screen, with three Olivier Awards to his name, the actor in real life would surely be a valuable mentor for any aspiring thespian.

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Art See all

Sketch discovered on reverse side of Branch Hill Pond, 1821

Undiscovered Constable oil sketch of Hampstead Heath to display in new V&A exhibition

Conservators at the V&A have discovered a previously unrecorded oil sketch by John Constable concealed beneath the lining of a painting of Hampstead’s Branch Hill Pond.

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