Brendan Behan: described himself as a “drinker with a writing problem”. F Scott Fitzgerald poignantly wrote that “first you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you”. Photograph: Hulton Getty

Alcohol has played a central role in the creative lives of some of the most famous authors of the last few centuries. Lewis Hyde notes in his essay(...)

BBC foreign correspondent Fergal Keane, with broadcaster and writer Olivia O’Leary at the Worldwide Ireland Funds ceremony where Mr Keane won the annual literary award. Photograph: Aengus McMahon

BBC foreign correspondent Fergal Keane was on Thursday awarded Worldwide Ireland Funds annual literary award of $25,000. The ceremony took place at M(...)

Liza Klaussmann: while Tigers in Red Weather was about women trying to liberate themselves in the postwar era, her new book is more about masculinity. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Picture this. A party in a clifftop villa on the French Riviera. The sun has set over the sea. The garden is lit by hurricane lamps painted – by th(...)

Emelia Fernandez and her daughter Irene outside their home in Old Town, Key West. Above is a sign with the name of Emelia’s home town in Cuba, and a Cuban flag leading into a Conch shell, representing their joint heritage. Photograph: Jennifer Hough

He was just 10 years old when he left in 1959, but Tony Yaniz still has vivid memories of Cuba: the stunning architecture of old Havana, the iconic Ma(...)

Peter Swanson: ‘Goldfinger by Ian Fleming... was the first adult book I read. It was filled with sex and violence and it was a real page turner. I thought: Where can I get more books like this?’

Peter Swanson is the author of two novels, The Girl with a Clock for a Heart, and The Kind Worth Killing (Faber & Faber, £14.99). His poems, st(...)

Jane Lythell: ‘Reading has been such an important part of my life since I was a child and books have formed who I am.’

Jane Lythell lives in Brighton. She was a producer at TV-am and commissioning editor at Westcountry Television, before leaving to become deputy direct(...)

Lee Israel, who has died aged 75, was a professional writer who became rather better known after a trial in 1993 as an accomplished literary forger.In(...)

Neil White is a criminal lawyer who writes crime fiction novels. ‘People are much worse than writers are able to imagine them.’

What was the first book to make an impression on you?Any one of the Enid Blyton Famous Five books. I remember well the feeling of mild terror as the m(...)

Havana living: a  man smoking a cigar
Going local in Cuba
  • Travel
  • January 10, 2015, 12:00

As our taxi worked its way into Havana from the airport I was immediately struck by the crumbling streets and faded but stunningly elegant pastel- hue(...)

Joe Millar Who volunteered for the Irish Red Cross in 1945 (centre) pictured with other volunteers from left to right Jane Ronan, Cormac McGinn, Emma Gannon, Andrew Patton, Paraic McGahey, Lea Pepper and Barbara Cole. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

‘That it’s only about overseas aid.” “And disasters.” “And it’s only for adults.” There are nine of us sitting in the slightly chilly meeti(...)