Women better represented in Victorian novels than modern, finds study

Analysis finds proportion of female authors and characters fell after 19th century, with male authors remaining ‘remarkably resistant’ to writing women

Women in novels have tended to “feel”, while men “get”; women smile or laugh, while men grin or chuckle. An analysis of more than 100,000 novels spanning more than 200 years shows how gendered even seemingly innocuous words can be – as well as revealing an unexpected decline in the proportion of female novelists from the mid-19th to the mid-20th century.

Academics from the universities of Illinois and California at Berkeley used an algorithm to examine 104,000 works of fiction dating from 1780 to 2007, drawn mostly from HathiTrust Digital Library. The algorithm identified both author and character genders. The academics expected to see an increase in the prominence of female characters in literature across the two centuries. Instead, “from the 19th century through the early 1960s we see ...

Copies of Mary Shelley’s original Frankenstein text to be published

Shelley spent nine months by Lake Geneva writing the story of the bringing to life of a monster

Percy Shelley’s correction of Mary Shelley’s misspelling of “igmmatic” in the notebooks in which she scrawled the story of Frankenstein – “enigmatic o you pretty Pecksie!” he wrote – will be seen in all its glory in a new facsimile of Shelley’s handwritten text to be published in March.

Shelley wrote the draft of Frankenstein in two large notebooks over nine months, after famously being challenged by Lord Byron, along with her then lover Percy Shelley, stepsister Claire Clairmont and Byron’s personal physician John Polidori, to “each write a ghost story” in the summer of 1816 by Lake Geneva. She was 18 at the time, and continued her work on the story after returning to the UK, finishing in the spring of 1817.

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Maze Runner author James Dashner dropped by US publisher amid harassment claims

Author of the popular young adult series has issued an apology for being ‘part of the problem’ in the wake of anonymous claims posted online

James Dashner, author of the bestselling young adult Maze Runner books, has issued an apology in which he says that he “will seek counselling and guidance” after he was accused of sexual harassment. He has also been dropped by his US publisher, Penguin Random House.

The anonymous allegations were made online on Sunday, in the comments section of a piece about sexual harassment in the children’s books world, published by the US trade magazine School Library Journal. Several accused Dashner of sexual harassment; one comment alleged that the “harassment/abuse from James Dashner was not a one-time unwanted touch or a joke I took the wrong way. It entailed months of manipulation, grooming and gaslighting”.

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Like a Woman bookshop to sell female authors only

Penguin, in conjunction with Waterstones, will mark International Women’s Day by opening a pop-up store in east London

Penguin is saying yes to Virginia Woolf and Margaret Atwood but no to the likes of James Joyce and Martin Amis as it prepares to open a bookshop in east London that will only sell books by women.

The pop-up store Like a Woman will be open from 5-9 March on Rivington Street in Shoreditch, to mark International Women’s Day and the centenary of the Representation of the People Act, which extended the women’s right to vote. The shop, which will stock books by more than 200 writers, will “celebrate the persistence of women who’ve fought for change: those who fight, rebel and shout #LikeAWoman”, according to Penguin.

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Two children’s authors dropped by agents amid claims of sexual harassment

In the wake of online accusations, The Maze Runner author James Dashner has lost representation, as has Thirteen Reasons Why author Jay Asher

The Maze Runner author James Dashner has been dropped by his literary agent after a series of anonymous accusations of sexual harassment were made against him online.

The bestselling novelist is one of several children’s authors who have been caught up in the #MeToo movement. On Medium, children’s author Anne Ursu revealed the responses to a widely shared survey she had run on sexual harassment among children’s book writers, agents and publishers, while on US site School Library Journal, an article about sexual harassment prompted hundreds of comments from people about their own experiences.

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Iain M Banks’s drawings of the Culture universe to be published in 2019

Late author’s friend Ken MacLeod is to publish a collection of the writer’s own images, sketching out the science fiction universe where he set 10 books

A final glimpse into the galaxy-spanning imagination of the late Iain M Banks is on the way in a collection of previously unseen drawings, maps and sketches from the Culture universe, many of which date from before Banks began writing the acclaimed science fiction series.

Due to be published in 2019 by Orbit, the collection of Culture drawings, some annotated by the author, will be brought together by Banks’s estate and his friend and fellow science fiction author Ken MacLeod. Along with commentary from MacLeod, the book will contain Banks’s own notes on the Culture, its history, language, technology, philosophy and values.

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Altered Carbon author Richard Morgan: ‘There’s no limit to my capacity for violence’

As Netflix screens his brutal body-swap novel, the writer talks about the anger – and the argument at a party – that fuelled its creation

On my way to meet Richard Morgan, I pass a poster for Altered Carbon, the new Netflix series based on his hardboiled cyberpunk novel about a future Earth where humans can transfer into different bodies. The writer, seated in a London cafe, grins with delight when I mention it: he lives in a village just outside Norwich and that poster, of a body preserved in plastic, is the first one he’s seen.

Altered Carbon tells the story of ultra-tough antihero Takeshi Kovacs, who wakes up on Earth “180 light years from home, wearing another man’s body on a six-week rental agreement”. Kovacs, a former member of a military elite, is tasked with investigating the apparent suicide of one of Earth’s richest men – or, as ...