Doris Lessing: her last Telegraph interview

Following the death of Nobel Prize-winning novelist Doris Lessing we republish the last interview she gave to the Telegraph, in which she discusses Hitler, literary awards and her relationship with her mother with Nigel Farndale When Nigel Farndale interviewed Doris Lessing in April 2008, at the age of 88, he found her still raging - at communists, war, Mrs Thatcher, the 'bloody Swedes' who awarded her the Nobel Prize... It takes Doris Lessing just four minutes to come out with something, if Read more [...]

Dinner with Margaret Thatcher: the story of a secret supper

In 1982, London's leading literary lights gathered for a secret dinner party. The guest of honour? Margaret Thatcher. Nigel Farndale interviews the survivors The Observer, Saturday 7 December 2013 On a clear autumn night in 1982, a government Daimler pulled out of Downing Street and began its glide across London to a house in Ladbroke Grove. In the passenger seat was a personal protection officer. He had been to the house earlier that day to check the security arrangements for the evening and had Read more [...]

Edith Tudor-Hart: the Soviet spy with a conscience

When Edith Tudor-Hart wasn’t working as a Soviet agent, she was taking lovingly realistic portraits of London’s workers and street children. Now, for the first time, a retrospective is celebrating her double life. Being a Soviet agent doesn’t seem to have come naturally to the photographer Edith Tudor-Hart (née Suschitzky). For one thing she used the code name “Edith”, which was not subtle. For another, when she moved to London from her native Vienna in 1933 she liked to attend and photograph Read more [...]

Inverted snobbery – it’s so rock ‘n’ roll

Public-school pop stars have a hard time being taken seriously There was a time when it was Genesis, and that was it. Now the domination of the pop charts by bands and singers who attended public schools has reached epidemic proportions. Mumford & Sons, who picked up “best group” at the Brit Awards on Wednesday, are the latest in a line of public-school Brit winners that includes Lily Allen, Florence Welch, Coldplay, Radiohead, Keane, Will Young, Pixie Lott, Dido, Kula Shaker and James Blunt. The Read more [...]

Why I’m feeling warmer to cold callers

It's good to remember that kindness, even to a salesman, doesn’t cost anything Might this work as a theorem? Being electronically connected makes life less difficult and more annoying in equal and opposite measure. You could call it Farndale’s First Law of Interconnectedness. I’ll give you an example of how it works. I like to shop online, mainly because I don’t live near any shops. But when you fill in a form electronically you have to give an email address, and then, even if you tick the Read more [...]

The secret to a successful marriage

Brushing things under the carpet is best for couples I was going to write: “When the trust goes in a marriage, there’s no fun lying to her any more.” I was then going to tell you that the line came from an old episode of Cheers, circa 1985, adding: “It was Norm who said it, I think, while propping up the bar.” But the web has taken away all the pleasure of such hazy recollection. I looked at what I had written, thought it didn’t sound quite right, then googled it. Sure enough, I found Read more [...]