I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

Ann Kennedy Smith

The Hard Life

When he agreed to allow her to be his biographer Samuel Beckett told Deirdre Bair that his friends would help her and his enemies would also surely seek her out. She was to find that while Beckett was honourable if elusive, it could be hard to tell his friends and enemies apart.

Loving and Losing

Éilís Ní Dhuibhne has written a moving memoir of her affair and subsequent marriage with the Swedish folklorist Bo Almqvist, who died in 2013. Life with a divorced man old enough to be her father might not have been the story she would have written for herself, but it led to a long and happy marriage.

The Ascent of Women

Charles Darwin assesses the ‘mental power’ of men and women

Sons and Mothers

Samuel Beckett largely attempted to escape the maternal embrace, insisting that his future would be decided by him rather than her. Philip Larkin’s relationship with his mother seems to have been much warmer, based at least partially on a shared pessimistic attitude to life.