A hero of political thought, the largely unsung and often misunderstood Hannah Arendt is perhaps best known for her landmark book, The Origins of Totalitarianism. Arendt led an extraordinary life. Having endured Nazi persecution firsthand, she fled across Europe, coming to live in a world inhabited by such luminaries as Marc Chagall, Marlene Dietrich, Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud.

She ultimately sacrificed her unique genius for philosophy and her love of a much-compromised man – the philosopher and Nazi-sympathiser … More

Born OTD in 1820, Friedrich Engels. Much of what Marx and Engels’ proposed – a state education system, a progressive income tax, the nationalisation of banks – would continue to be at the heart of political debate into the 21st century. It is no surprise, perhaps, that The Communist Manifesto (as it was later renamed) is the second best-selling book of all time, surpassed only by The Bible.

The Guardian’s editorial cartoonist Martin Rowson employs his trademark draughtsmanship and wit to this lively graphic novel adaptation of Marx … More

Cassandra Darke is an art dealer, mean, selfish, solitary by nature, living in Chelsea in a house worth £7 million. She has become a social pariah, but doesn’t much care. Between one Christmas and the next, she has sullied the reputation of a West End gallery & has acquired a conviction for fraud, a suspended sentence & a bank balance drained by lawsuits. On the scale of villainy, fraud seems to Cassandra a rather paltry offence – her own crime involving `no violence, no weapon, no dead body’. But in Cassandra’s basement, her young ex-lodger, Nicki, has left a surprise, something which implies at least violence and probably a body . .

… Something which forces Cassandra out of her rich enclave and onto the streets. Not those local streets paved with … More

Jinju is bad. She smokes, drinks, runs away from home, and has no qualms about making her parents worry. Her mother and sister beg her to be a better student, sister, daughter; her beleaguered father expresses his concerns with his fists. Bad Friends is set in the 1990s in a South Korea torn between tradition and Western modernity and haunted by an air of generalized gloom…

Cycles of abuse abound as the characters enact violence within their power structures: parents beat children, teachers beat students, older … More

Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn and caldron bubble. Fillet of a fenny snake, In the caldron boil and bake; Eye of newt and toe of frog, Wool of bat and tongue of dog, Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting, Lizard’s leg and howlet’s wing, For a charm of powerful trouble, Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

The complete play translated into plain English. It’s 11th century Scotland. Macbeth, Thane of Glamis, is one of King Duncan’s … More

“I realised I was leading a double life…” Robert Louis Stevenson liked to tell the story of how The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886) came to him one night in a dream, while staying, for the sake of his health, in the provincial English seaside town of Bournemouth. He wrote the first draft in three days – then burned it when his wife suggested some changes. The second version was finished by the end of the week, and has scarcely been out of print since.

The ‘double life’ that the book’s hero (the respectable doctor Henry Jekyll) finds himself leading was something that Stevenson himself … More

Born OTD in 1881, Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, stage designer, poet, playwright, and co-founding member of the Cubist movement, Pablo Picasso. Julie Birmant and Clement Oubrerie’s award-winning graphic biography of Pablo Picasso captures the prolific and eventful life of one of the world’s best-loved artists.

Pablo takes in Picasso’s early life among the bohemians of Monmartre, his turbulent relationship with Fernande, and the development of … More

Born OTD in 1913, Hungarian war photographer & photojournalist, Robert Capa. ‘Robert Capa: A Graphic Biography’ is a brilliant portrayal of the career of the great war photographer who, at the time of his death in 1954, had only one wish: to be an unemployed war photographer. ‘It is not always easy’ he said, ‘to stand aside and be unable to do anything except record the suffering.

Born in 1913 to a Jewish family in Budapest, Endre Friedmann left home at 18 for Germany where he studied … More