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Literature

How does the reader decide if a history book is worth their time?

Since the moment Emily Brontë died we have tried – and failed – to understand who she was. 

What goes on in other people’s minds? The idea of writing about what we can never know – the interior lives of others – was born in the fertile hybrid culture of 12th-century England and made possible by the pursuit of romantic love. 

The Parisian pornographer who modernised literature. 

From ancient Greece to the Second World War, from the papacy to the Antichrist, from Byzantium to China and the story of the Jewish people, historians select their favourite books of the past year.

Wild yet chaste, impudent and ageless, Sarah Bernhardt was inescapably Oscar Wilde’s Salomé, ‘the most splendid creation’.

The American poet died on March 26th, 1892 after completing his masterpiece, Leaves of Grass, a year earlier. 

Despite its popularity in France, the political memoir took a while to get going in Britain. It was Lord Clarendon’s epic attempt to make sense of the turbulent 17th century that slowly set the ball rolling.

If you believe the neologism 'post-truth' describes a new phenomenon, think again. Geoffrey Chaucer diagnosed the problem at the end of the 14th century.

Along with Robin Hood, the romantic highwayman is one of the great myths of English outlawry. But the model for this most gallant of rogues was a Frenchman name Claude Duval, who carried out audacious robberies with a touch of Parisian flair.