Hermione Eyre

Stories of the Sussex Downs

This amazing book is itself a little like a flint, a misshapen stone egg of the Sussex Downs. It resists the reader at first, coated in the calcite rind of the author’s slow, scholarly journey, missteps and all. But when you persist, breaking the book’s spine or, as it were, knapping the flinty nodule, you

James Heale, Paul Wood and Hermione Eyre

21 min listen

This week: James Heale takes us through the runners and riders for the conservative nomination for mayor of London (1:00), Paul Wood discusses how Saudi Arabia is trying to buy the world (06:02), and Hermione Eyre reads her arts lead on the woman who pioneered colour photography (12:51).  Produced and presented by Oscar Edmondson. 

The woman who pioneered colour photography

When colour photography first came in at the start of the last century, it met a surprising amount of resistance from distinguished photographers. But Madame Yevonde loved it, owned it, revelled in it. She invested in a new Vivex repeating back camera, exhorting her fellows at the Royal Photographic Society in 1932: ‘Hurrah, we are

How to tell your Roman emperors apart

Rising professors do well to be controversial if they wish to be invited to contribute to mainstream media. But the elder professor, lauded, loved and telly-tastic, has the privilege of swerving controversy without losing the limelight. And so Mary Beard gives us this rich disquisition on the Caesars’ visual representation (and misrepresentation), from swapped plinths

Doctor Butcher: crank, genius or son of Frankenstein?

I hated reading this book. Not only was it objectively upsetting, as any book describing monkey vivisection would be (I put my head in my hands when I realised there were photographs), it was also dispiriting, because it showed up my hypocrisy. Like so many, I would gratefully accept perfusion brain-cooling techniques if they helped

Nina Hamnett’s art was every bit as riveting as her life

Nina Hamnett is in vogue again. She is the subject of a new pocket biography, no. 7 in Eiderdown Books’s Modern Women Artists series, and her first ever retrospective is now open at Charleston Farmhouse’s gallery space. I confess I didn’t know much about her before this resurrection, but she is now one of my

The truth about my father, Philip Guston

Philip Guston’s later work is — and I say this with love — nails-down-a-blackboard weird. The vapid pinks and flat reds lend a nightmare cheerfulness. The menacing American figure wearing Mickey Mouse gloves is rendered in cartoonish style. The clock shows it is time to panic, challenging you to call out the hood for the

Why we’re all in love with Fleabag

Why would you need the scripts for Fleabag? It’s hardly a lost classic. It’s always popping up on BBC iPlayer. So it was with a touch of scepticism that I picked up this volume, subtitled not ‘The Scripts’ but ‘The Scriptures’, in reference to Fleabag’s long, pitiless pursuit of a hot priest in Series 2,

Serial genius

‘It’s no use at all,’ says Posy Simmonds in mock despair, holding up her hands. ‘I can’t tell my left from my right.’ She is ambidextrous. ‘This hand [her right] writes and draws; and this hand [her left] cuts out, sharpens pencils, throws balls, plays tennis… I can’t drive. I’ve never taken a test. I’m

Medieval girl power

Women who can — however tenuously — be described as ‘rebel girls’ are big in publishing now. Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls sold 3.5 million copies in hardback, reflecting a huge cultural push to discover and venerate women in history who kicked over the traces. To publishers, real-life rebel princesses have cool hard-cash value. In

All heart, trust and gut feeling

‘To me, he was sort of like a unicorn,’ writes Mrs Obama, looking back on her courtship days with Barack. He was affectionate, loving, secure and brainy. Very brainy. ‘He consumed volumes of political philosophy as if it were beach reading.’ He was laid back but his sense of purpose was strong. ‘Barack was serious

Blood and bile

Are books becoming an adjunct to TV? Both of these are good reads, but both feel influenced by — and yearning for — television. Medieval Bodies could be the script for a landmark BBC Four series, while the author of How to Behave Badly in Renaissance Britain came to prominence as farthingale consultant on programmes

Golden lads galore

Stephen Fry has had a go at the Greek myths, in a competitively priced hardback, just in time for Christmas. And he has done it jolly well, actually, so lower that collective eyebrow, please, all of you purists who think entertainers ought to stay away from the classics, and remember that as one of our