Woman’s Weekly’s ‘exploitative’ contracts anger authors

As well as slashing fees for short stories, the magazine has demanded fiction writers waive all rights to their work

The new issue of the Woman’s Weekly fiction special is out now, promising its readers short stories from writers who “never fail to come up with new twists and turns and unexpected plots”. But, in a twist that may have surprised the editors, authors are up in arms over a new contract that demands all rights for any story it publishes.

Woman’s Weekly has been a British newsstand favourite for a century, with its blend of cakes and crochet, fiction and fashion. It is now part of media giant TI Media, which produces magazines including Homes & Gardens and Marie Claire.

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‘Pie for a doubting husband’: how to cook like a suffragette

The Suffrage Cook Book, first published in 1915 and now reissued, includes Jack London’s favourite duck recipe and Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s ‘synthetic quince’

From Jack London’s method for roasting a “blood-rare” slice of “toothsome teal” to Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s accidental discovery of a mysterious treat she calls “synthetic quince”, modern cooks can now take a step back in time with the reissue of a 103-year-old cookbook compiled to raise funds for the suffragettes.

First published in 1915 by The Equal Franchise Federation Of Western Pennsylvania, with a cover showing Uncle Sam weighing men and women on his scales, The Suffrage Cook Book was assembled by a Mrs LO Kleber. Including recipes for a “Pie for a Suffragist’s Doubting Husband” to a “Suffrage Angel Cake”, it is being reissued this month as The Original Suffrage Cook Book to mark the centenary of the 1918 Representation of the People Act, which allowed ...

Family claims win in high court challenge to Northants library cuts

Proposed measures by struggling local authority had not considered statutory duties closely enough, judge rules

A young girl and her family who took on Northamptonshire county council over its plans to close 21 libraries have claimed a win in the high court, after a judge ruled that the cash-strapped council would have to revisit its plans while “paying attention to its legal obligations”.

Mrs Justice Yip, announcing her judicial review judgment on Tuesday, found that the council’s decision-making process had been unlawful, and that it had not properly considered whether it would be operating a comprehensive and efficient library service – as required by law – once the much-criticised closures had gone ahead.

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Helen Lederer launches prize for funny female writers

The Comedy women in print award is a response to how few female authors have won the Wodehouse prize

The Women’s prize for fiction was famously set up in response to the Booker prize failing to shortlist any female authors in 1991. Two decades on, a new award celebrating the funniest novels by women has been announced, in the wake of a sexism row over the Wodehouse prize for comic fiction.

Awarded each year at the Hay literary festival, the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse prize has gone to three female authors in 18 years: Helen Fielding, Marina Lewycka and Hannah Rothschild. Earlier this summer, the bestselling novelist Marian Keyes laid into the Wodehouse – previously the UK’s only prize for funny fiction – for its “sexist imbalance”.

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Langston Hughes ‘born a year before accepted date’, researcher finds

Poet researching archives of local African American newspaper finds story reporting on ‘little Langston’ before his recorded birth date

A poet’s late-night internet search of local newspaper archives has revealed that one of the US’s greatest cultural icons, the African American poet Langston Hughes, was born a year earlier than his biographers have believed for decades.

Kansas poet Eric McHenry told the New York Times that he was trawling through digitised local newspaper archives when he spotted a note on the society page of the African American weekly newspaper, the Topeka Plaindealer from 20 December 1901, mentioning that “Little Langston Hughes has been quite ill for the past two weeks. He is improving.” The paper recorded the minutiae of daily life for locals, promising: “Do you want to know where your friends are, who they visit, what they are doing? What the race is doing in general? Read the ...

Belinda Bauer, the crime author up for the Booker: ‘If it’s tokenism, I don’t care’

She hadn’t read a crime novel before writing her debut at 45. Now, the author of The Snap talks risk-taking, genre snobbery and not needing to know whodunnit

Belinda Bauer heard the news that she’d been longlisted for this year’s Man Booker prize for her thriller Snap from her agent and editor, who called her together from the Harrogate crime writing festival, giggling so hard she could hardly tell what they were saying. Sworn to secrecy, she kept thinking she must have heard them wrong – she couldn’t quite believe it.

A few days later, it was official: Snap, which is inspired by the murder of a pregnant woman, Marie Wilks, on the M50 in 1988 (the real-life crime remains unsolved), had become one of the very few crime-genre novels ever to be considered for the prize. The judges described it as “an acute, stylish, intelligent novel about how ...

Booker prize longlisting leaves Sabrina’s publishers struggling to meet demand

Nick Drnaso’s graphic novel, the first to make the finalists for the UK’s leading fiction award, has seen sales rocket after the announcement

Readers have been scrambling to get hold of copies of Nick Drnaso’s Sabrina since it became the first graphic novel ever to make the Booker prize longlist last month, with bookshops desperately seeking new stock of the surprise bestseller.

Waterstones head of fiction Chris White said that the book, which follows the story of a missing woman and has been described as a masterpiece by Zadie Smith, was its second bestselling title from the selection of 13 chosen by judges, behind Michael Ondaatje’s historical novel Warlight.

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Ukip members sent ‘mind-broadening’ reading after bookshop attack

Index on Censorship gives books promoting tolerance to trio suspended from party after attack on Bookmarks in London

Free speech campaigners have sent books including The Handmaid’s Tale, The Color Purple and the Qur’an to the three Ukip members who attacked a socialist bookshop in London to “introduce them to different ideas”.

Bookmarks in Bloomsbury was attacked by 12 people – one of whom was wearing a Donald Trump mask – just before it closed on Saturday. The group chanted far-right slogans, knocked over displays, ripped up magazines, and intimidated the two members of staff who were there. Ukip later said that three of its members, Elizabeth Jones, Luke Nash-Jones and Martin Costello had been suspended, pending an investigation into the incident.

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Backlash after the Nation apologises for publishing controversial poem

Anders Carlson-Wee’s How-To has been accused of racism and ableism, but some writers say the magazine should not be scared to offend

A fierce debate has broken out in US literary circles after the progressive magazine the Nation apologised for publishing a poem in which a white poet assumes a black vernacular.

The young American poet Anders Carlson-Wee’s poem How-To was published in the Nation in July. Assuming the voice of a homeless person, it opens: “If you got hiv, say aids. If you a girl, / say you’re pregnant – nobody gonna lower / themselves to listen for the kick. People / passing fast.”

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Backlash after the Nation apologises for publishing controversial poem

Anders Carlson-Wee’s How-To has been accused of racism and ableism, but some writers say the magazine should not be scared to offend

A fierce debate has broken out in US literary circles after the progressive magazine the Nation apologised for publishing a poem in which a white poet assumes a black vernacular.

The young American poet Anders Carlson-Wee’s poem How-To was published in the Nation in July. Assuming the voice of a homeless person, it opens: “If you got hiv, say aids. If you a girl, / say you’re pregnant – nobody gonna lower / themselves to listen for the kick. People / passing fast.”

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‘Elitist’: angry book pirates hit back after author campaign sinks website

OceanofPDF was shut down last week after publishers issued hundreds of takedown notices – but authors have been left dealing with angry users

Authors have been called elitist by book pirates, after they successfully campaigned to shut down a website that offered free PDFs of thousands of in-copyright books.

OceanofPDF was closed last week after publishers including Penguin Random House and HarperCollins issued hundreds of takedown notices, with several high-profile authors including Philip Pullman and Malorie Blackman raising the issue online. Featuring free downloads of thousands of books, OceanofPDF had stated on its site that it sought to make information “free and accessible to everyone around the globe”, and that it wanted to make books available to people in “many developing countries where … they are literally out of reach to many people”.

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Ukip suspends three members over socialist bookshop attack

Party chair says investigation will be held following incident at Bookmarks in London

Ukip has suspended three party members after an attack on a socialist bookshop in central London on Saturday.

A statement from the party’s chair, Tony McIntyre, said Elizabeth Jones, Luke Nash-Jones and Martin Costello had been suspended pending an investigation into the incident at Bookmarks bookshop in Bloomsbury.

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Traces on George Orwell letter suggest he caught TB from Spanish hospital

Scientist claims it is likely that the illness that killed the novelist was contracted after he was wounded in the Spanish civil war

Scientific tests carried out on a letter sent by George Orwell shortly after his return from the Spanish civil war have suggested he may have caught the tuberculosis that killed him in a Spanish hospital.

The letter, written after the author came home from fighting against Franco’s fascist uprising in July 1937, was sent by Orwell to Sergey Dinamov, the editor of the Soviet journal Foreign Literature. It was tested by Gleb Zilberstein, a scientist who has previously identified traces of kidney disease on the manuscript of Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita. Although it is well known that Orwell died from a haemorrhage caused by tuberculosis, it has not been clear where he caught it.

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‘Spectacular’ ancient public library discovered in Germany

Remains of grand building that may have housed up to 20,000 scrolls uncovered in central Cologne, dating back to second century AD

The remains of the oldest public library in Germany, a building erected almost two millennia ago that may have housed up to 20,000 scrolls, have been discovered in the middle of Cologne.

The walls were first uncovered in 2017, during an excavation on the grounds of a Protestant church in the centre of the city. Archaeologists knew they were of Roman origins, with Cologne being one of Germany’s oldest cities, founded by the Romans in 50 AD under the name Colonia. But the discovery of niches in the walls, measuring approximately 80cm by 50cm, was, initially, mystifying.

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Haruki Murakami ‘cannot oppose’ death penalty for doomsday cult killers

Japanese novelist, whose book Underground charted the impact of the 1995 sarin gas attack, says he is unable to argue with judicial killing in this case

The Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami has said that he cannot publicly oppose Japan’s execution of the doomsday cult members behind the 1995 Tokyo sarin gas attack, despite being against the death penalty.

In a rare essay, published in the Mainichi Shimbun on Sunday, Murakami said that “as a general argument, I adopt a stance of opposition toward the death penalty”, pointing to the number of wrongful convictions which mean that “the death penalty, literally, can be described as an institution with fatal dangers”.

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‘Dire statistics’ show YA fiction is becoming less diverse, warns report

Study finds that fewer books for young adults by black and minority ethnic authors have been published in the UK since 2010, despite rise in diversity initiatives

Despite a raft of diversity initiatives, the percentage of young adult books written by black and minority ethnic (BME) authors has declined steadily since 2010, according to a new study warning that the UK’s “outdated” publishing culture must take rapid action to address a systemic problem in its ranks.

The research is “evidence of what many people already suspected: people of colour are terribly under-represented in books and bookish jobs”, according to its author Dr Melanie Ramdarshan Bold at University College London. It follows hot on the heels of the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education’s report into character diversity in children’s books, which showed only 1% of books published in the UK last year had a BME main protagonist.

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‘Lost chapters’ of Malcolm X’s autobiography sold at auction

Portions of the civil rights activist’s landmark book, reportedly too controversial to publish at the time, have been acquired by New York Public Library

“Lost” material from The Autobiography of Malcolm X, reportedly seen as too controversial to publish in the 1960s, has emerged this week at an auction in New York.

Along with the original typed manuscript, which reveals the back and forth between the black activist and his collaborator Alex Haley, to whom he told his story, the unpublished writing was put up for sale on Thursday by New York auctioneer Guernsey’s. The papers, including an unpublished chapter and a series of unpublished pages, were acquired by the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

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James Patterson remains UK libraries’ most borrowed author for 11th year

While readers in east England prefer romance, and those in the south-west want their books to be by Roald Dahl, figures show the US thriller king has kept his throne

While library users in London and the north cannot get enough of tales of blood and violence, it has emerged that borrowers in the south and east prefer the thrills supplied by romantic novels.

According to data released by the Public Lending Right (PLR), thrillers – and in particular thrillers by James Patterson – continue to exert an inexorable pull for the majority of the UK’s library users. The US powerhouse, who publishes multiple titles every year, has been named the most borrowed author from UK libraries for the 11th year in a row.

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Trinidadian Creole tale wins 2018 Commonwealth short story prize

Judges praise Passage by Kevin Jared Hosein as ‘all a reader could want from a short story’

A tale written in Trinidadian Creole that was inspired by the true story of a family who cremated a baby in the wilds of the island, has been plucked from more than 5,000 entries to win the Commonwealth short story prize.

In Passage, Kevin Jared Hosein writes of a man who hears a story in a bar about a family living away from society, and sets out to find them. “A man is so small in the wilderness, believe me. The way how people is now, we ain’t tailored to live there. So when Stew say he stumble across a house in the middle of the mountain, my ears prick up. I take in every word as he describe it. A daub and wattle house in the middle of a clearing, walls ...

One of Jane Austen’s earliest buyers revealed as Prince Regent – who she ‘hated’

Archives reveal that the future King George IV had a taste for fiction, and bought Sense and Sensibility two days before it was first advertised in 1811

In an irony worthy of the great novelist herself, a PhD student has discovered that one of the first purchasers of Jane Austen’s debut novel Sense and Sensibility was the Prince Regent – a man the author despised.

Nicholas Foretek, a doctoral student at the University of Pennsylvania, was delving through Windsor Castle’s Royal Archives as part of his research into 18th-century printing and publications when he came across a bill of sale revealing that the future King George IV bought a copy of Sense and Sensibility for 15 shillings from his booksellers, Becket & Porter. The purchase was made on 28 October 1811 – two days before the first public advertisement for the novel appeared. Published anonymously, Sense and Sensibility was not ...