Alain de Botton, the Swiss philosopher and author of several books, including How to Think More About Sex, will be speaking on a panel titled “How and What and Why do Writers Write?” at the annual Hong Kong Book Fair this month. The authority on modern architecture, comparative religion and motoring came to prominence in 1993, with the novel Essays in Love, which earned him the nickname Dr Love. Joining him on the panel will be Carol Thatcher, writer, journalist and daughter of the Iron Lady …

Six years before her death in 2013, the former British prime minister publicly admitted her regret over Hong Kong’s return to China. Margaret Thatcher told the BBC she had wanted “a continuation of British administration” in Hong Kong, “but when this proved impossible, I saw the opportunity to preserve most of what was unique to Hong Kong through applying Mr Deng’s [one country, two systems] idea”. Thatcher was persuaded to give the interview in 2007 – her first in five years – by long-time friend David Tang …

Hong Kong-born Tang was sent to school in Britain when he was 13. Hardly speaking a word of English, he failed his O Levels six times before eventually going on to read philosophy at King’s College London. Described as a “British knight, Chinese entrepreneur, Cuban cigar king, classical pianist, hip-hop aficionado, bon viveur and teetotaller” by Geordie Greig, editor of The Mail on Sunday, Tang is also the founder of fashion and lifestyle brand Shanghai Tang and Hong Kong’s China Club, as well as being a Financial Times’ agony uncle. In the newspaper, he recently wrote that interiors need an air of history to “create depth”. True to his word, Tang has sitting on a pedestal at his home a bust of Roman general Mark Antony …

The statesman and supporter of Julius Caesar was born in Rome on January 14, 83BC and, during his teens, was an alcoholic, a womaniser and a gambler. By his 20s, Antony was in debt and fled to Athens, where he began studying rhetoric, a skill that would pay dividends many centuries later, with the “friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears” speech being attributed to the smoothtalking general (it is considered some of Shakespeare’s greatest work). Following Caesar’s murder, Antony shacked up with his dead friend’s former squeeze, Egyptian queen Cleopatra …

Peeved that the Turkish island bearing her name lacked a beach, the last active pharaoh of ancient Egypt must have been impressed when Antony had 60 vessels full of sand sent from North Africa to Cleopatra Island to please his lady love. History has remembered the queen as a masterful seductress who leveraged her exotic beauty for political ends. Roughly 2,000 years after her reign, the city of Alexandria would give the world another well-connected beauty who would deploy her feminine wiles in Egyptian high society for political means. Her name was Yolande Gabai Harmer …

Born in 1913 to a Turkish-Jewish mother, Harmer went on to marry three times. With high-ranking military brass, cultural icons and Muslim sheikhs all reported to have fallen under her spell, Harmer was recruited by the Israeli intelligence service in 1948 and subsequently became a top spy. From her first marriage, Harmer had her only child: Gilbert de Botton, father of the founder of London institution The School of Life, Alain de Botton.