Richard Curtis: ‘I regret not writing about love’s trickier side’

Writer tells Cheltenham festival he wishes he had tackled problems that come with staying together

Richard Curtis, the writer and director behind some of Britain’s best-loved romantic comedies, has said he wished he had spent more time writing about the later years of love.

Curtis, whose films include Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill and Love, Actually, was reflecting on some of the things he had not done in a busy career that also included co-founding Comic Relief.

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Brexit is black cloud for UK arts, says former National Theatre boss

Sir Nicholas Hytner says council cuts and sidelining of subjects at school add to crisis

Sir Nicholas Hytner has delivered alarming warnings about the health of British arts and culture amid Brexit, council spending cuts and the downgrading of subjects at school.

Hytner, who was the director of the National Theatre for 12 years, expressed publicly views that are shared privately by many people in the arts. The difference, Hytner told the Cheltenham literature festival, was that he no longer worked in the public sector.

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Antony Sher: was Shakespeare a misogynist?

Actor says King Lear’s disgust at womankind may show playwright had a ‘problem with women’

King Lear’s revulsion at the female form and rage against womankind may be indicative of Shakespeare’s misogyny, the actor Sir Antony Sher has suggested.

Sher’s performance as Lear for the Royal Shakespeare Company between 2016-18, directed by his husband, Gregory Doran, was praised as “unbearably moving” by the Guardian’s Michael Billington.

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Spy agencies are worst at learning from past, say experts

No profession is as ignorant of its history as the intelligence profession, book festival hears

Intelligence agencies more than any other professional body have “official amnesia” and repeatedly fail to learn the lessons of the past, a panel of espionage experts has said.

Christopher Andrew, the writer of an authorised history of MI5, said intelligence chiefs ignored or did not know about historical mistakes, and the reason was obvious: the operations were always secret.

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V&A director defends rising exhibition prices

Tristram Hunt says museum is working on price models, and warns over arts in schools

Tristram Hunt, the director of the V&A, has defended the rising cost of exhibition tickets but said the museum will offer more flexible pricing including cheaper entry for advance bookings.

Many people bristle at the cost of tickets to exhibitions at the UK’s national museums and galleries. The top-price ticket at the V&A’s Pink Floyd show last year was £24, and the National Gallery was in the headlines in April when it charged £22 for a weekend ticket for its Monet show.

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Mr Darcy’s reputation as romantic hero trashed at Cheltenham literature festival

Writer Dolly Alderton says the ‘conceited’ Jane Austen character invented negging

Mr Darcy is not the dashing, romantic hero some people might fondly imagine. He is a probably ugly, conceited, rude, humourless snob who has had a dangerous effect on dating culture which lingers to the present day.

The reputation of Jane Austen’s hero from Pride and Prejudice was thoroughly and comprehensively trashed at the Cheltenham literature festival on Sunday.

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‘So what’ fiction isn’t creating passionate readers, says Pat Barker

Bestselling novelist criticised lack of new novels that speak strongly to particular audiences

Contemporary fiction is going through a “so what” moment, with very few novels generating a real sense of passion in readers, the Booker prize-winning novelist Pat Barker has said.

She said fiction, or the reading of fiction, was not in good health. It is less #MeToo, she told the Cheltenham literature festival on Sunday. “It is the so what moment.

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Sebastian Faulks reveals he is working on ‘Pinteresque’ play

Novelist says he is hoping he can succeed where others have failed in switch to stage

The novelist Sebastian Faulks is turning his attention to the stage with a play that will have no interval and will feature a good deal of repetition and nudity.

Faulks said he was well aware he could fall flat on his face but he enjoyed theatre and had seen enough of it to know what he thought worked.

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Hanif Kureishi steps into row over Lionel Shriver’s diversity comments

Writer says Oxbridge men ‘and their lackeys’ have benefited from positive discrimination for centuries

Hanif Kureishi has stepped in to the furore over Lionel Shriver’s comments on diversity condemning the “knuckle-dragging” and “pathetic whining” of an elite who don’t want change.

In an article for the Guardian Kureishi argues that it should be seen as good news that “the master race” is becoming anxious about who they have to hear from.

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Withering slights: Emily Brontë was no oddball, author argues

Book published this week by Claire O’Callaghan seeks to dispel ‘damaging myths’ about Wuthering Heights author

Two hundred years after her birth Emily Brontë is still remembered as an oddball, a people-hater and the weirdest of three weird sisters.

But a book published this week aims to rehabilitate the reputation of the author of Wuthering Heights, one of the greatest novels ever written: she may have been shy and reserved but she was not strange and should be seen as a woman ahead of her time, the academic Claire O’Callaghan argues.

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24-hour news has cut politicians’ shelf life, says Gordon Brown

Former PM says politicians now get about six years at the top, because voters get bored

The age of 24-hour news has brought about the end of long political leaderships, the former prime minister Gordon Brown has said, estimating that a politician’s time at the top is now no more than six years.

Brown told the Hay literary festival in Wales that invasive modern media meant the public got sick of politicians more quickly.

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Stephen Frears queries reopening of Jeremy Thorpe investigation

Drama director tells Hay festival ‘you have to accept limitations of British justice’

Stephen Frears, the director of the BBC’s acclaimed Jeremy Thorpe drama, has questioned the point of reopening an investigation into what is still one of the most bizarre and farcical scandals of recent decades.

The well-received series, which stars Hugh Grant as the Liberal leader, finishes its three-episode run on Sunday night.

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David Miliband: I would join any campaign against any Brexit deal

The former foreign secretary says there should be a second vote on Brexit

David Miliband has said he would take part in any campaign to vote against the terms of any Brexit deal but has no plans to return to the cut and thrust of UK politics.

Miliband, who has been based in New York as president of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) since 2013, is still seen, at the age of 52, as a future leader of the Labour party and has never categorically ruled it out.

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Jilly Cooper: modern men have beards and cry all the time

Author tells Hay festival of phenomenon of ‘married men wanting to have gay affairs’

Jilly Cooper, the doyenne of the posh bonkbuster, has given her observations on modern men: they cry too much, always have a beard and are perhaps so scared of women they seek relationships with men.

In a lively talk at the Hay literary festival on Thursday, Cooper, mostly with her tongue in her cheek, spoke about sex, horses, football, gender fluidity and Germaine Greer, who had appeared at Hay the previous day.

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Germaine Greer calls for punishment for rape to be reduced

Feminist academic tells Hay festival that ‘most rape is just lazy, careless and insensitive’

Germaine Greer has called for the lowering of punishment for rape and said society should not see it as a “spectacularly violent crime” but instead view it more as “lazy, careless and insensitive”.

She suggested that a fitting sentence for the offence might be 200 hours’ community service and perhaps an “r” tattoo on the rapist’s hand, arm or cheek.

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Salman Rushdie tells of Hollywood’s phoniness and Trump’s best box

Hay festival crowd hears about TV and film industry ‘bullshit’ and hanging with the Donald

The world of literature has its own level of phoniness, Salman Rushdie has admitted, but it is nothing compared with the wild insincerity levels of film and television. “Believe nothing,” he said.

In an entertaining interview at the Hay literary festival in Wales Rushdie revealed the bruising experience he had with the US TV company Showtime, which approached him seven years ago to write a series.

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Teenagers’ brains not ready for GCSEs, says neuroscientist

Sarah-Jayne Blakemore opposes timing of exams in a period of major cognitive change

Teenagers are being damaged by the British school system because of early start times and exams at 16 when their brains are going through enormous change, a leading neuroscientist has said.

Sarah-Jayne Blakemore said it was only in recent years that the full scale of the changes that take place in the adolescent brain has been discovered. “That work has completely revolutionised what we think about this period of life,” she said.

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