Miranda Carter

Miranda Carter is the author of Anthony Blunt: His Lives and, most recently, The Three Emperors: Three Cousins, Three Empires and the Road to World War One.

The idea​ for Desert Island Discs came to Roy Plomley one night in November 1941 in the aftermath of the Blitz. Plomley was 27, an unsuccessful actor turned slightly more successful radio broadcaster. The fire in his digs had gone out, and he’d just put on his pyjamas when inspiration struck. He immediately typed out his idea and posted it the next morning to Leslie Perowne, a producer...

No more alimony, tra la la: Somerset Maugham

Miranda Carter, 17 December 2009

In his lifetime, Somerset Maugham was the most successful writer in the Anglophone world. By the time he was 90, 80 million copies of his books had been sold, he was a media celebrity and a very rich man. He had also lived, as Selina Hastings says, ‘much of his life under cover’. He went to great lengths to erase evidence of his private life, systematically destroying his personal...

At the height of Steve McQueen’s fame in 1968, after a run of huge box-office successes – The Sand Pebble, The Thomas Crown Affair, Bullitt – it was Robert Mitchum, his elder by 13 years and a star for more than twenty, who was voted the screen’s ‘godfather of cool’ on America’s university campuses.

Both men had got to where they were by doing or...

On 30 July 1914, it suddenly dawned on Kaiser Wilhelm II that Germany was on the threshold of a war with three great powers. Panicking, he grabbed a recently arrived dispatch from St Petersburg...

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Joining the Gang: Anthony Blunt

Nicholas Penny, 29 November 2001

On the afternoon of 15 November 1979 the Prime Minister announced in the House of Commons that Anthony Blunt, retired Surveyor of the Queen’s Pictures, fellow of the British Academy, former...

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