Exam board rules on punctuation are wrong, wrong, and wrong

Linguistics expert David Crystal tells Hay festival that school advisers ‘not aware of complexity of decisions they are asking kids to make’ Is that a tall, dark, and handsome man standing over there? Or a tall, dark and handsome man? The vexed question of commas, where to use them and where not to, was raised at Hay festival by the linguistics academic David Crystal. Both of the above are correct, he said, but he criticised the Department for Education for not realising that, and for allowing exam boards to wrongly penalise children. He said the current guidance for schools “leaves a huge amount to be desired, especially in areas of punctuation. Continue reading...

WI not just about jam and Jerusalem, author tells Hay festival

Maggie Andrews says members debated how to outwit Nazis and equal rights and were the acceptable face of feminism Jam-making by members of the Women’s Institute is normally seen as a fun and essentially benign activity – not a way of killing Nazis. Hay festival heard that during the second world war WI branches vigorously debated the consequences of a German invasion and jam was central. Continue reading...

Yanis Varoufakis tells Hay festival he admired Margaret Thatcher

Former Greek finance minister says while he protested against Thatcher he enjoyed how she ‘wiped the floor’ with opposition They might seem a million miles apart in terms of politics, but the radical socialist economist Yanis Varoufakis has revealed he is a secret admirer of Margaret Thatcher. Varoufakis, a former finance minister of Greece, lived in the UK for a decade as a student and lecturer. Continue reading...

Prince Philip’s DNA may identify the last of the Romanovs, says Sebag Montefiore

Human remains could now be conclusively identified as belonging to the children of the Russian royal family who were killed with their parents in 1918 The DNA of the Duke of Edinburgh is being used by Russia to establish whether the remains of bodies are those of the Romanovs, executed by the Bolsheviks in 1918. The historian Simon Sebag Montefiore revealed that the DNA of Prince Philip, a descendant of the Romanovs, was being used to solve a historical mystery that could be used to bolster the reputation of President Vladimir Putin. Continue reading...

Hay festival: Russell T Davies defends cutting Shakespeare texts

Writer behind BBC’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream says he ditched line where character threatens to kill herself, calling it outdated Russell T Davies has defended cutting Shakespeare and said he would not countenance keeping a female character declaring she would kill herself for love. Davies’ version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is broadcast on BBC1 on Monday evening. He told Hay festival that he has cut boldly, and not just more obviously extraneous lines. He has cut Helena saying to Demetrius “treat me as your spaniel” and how she would rather die than not be loved. Continue reading...

Rabbits hopping mad about hutches, says naturalist Chris Packham

BBC presenter says we should be constantly rethinking how we look after animals It is the childhood ambition for many a budding naturalist, bringing Fluffy the rabbit into the home complete with its own purpose-built hutch. But, according to the wildlife expert Chris Packham, the nation’s pet rabbits are hopping mad about their wooden homes. Delivering a withering assessment at this weekend’s Hay literary festival of how we keep our pets, the BBC presenter said: “We don’t revise our ideas about animal husbandry quick enough. Rabbits are kept in hutches because we were growing them for food, not keeping them as pets. Continue reading...

William Shakespeare’s handwritten plea for refugees to go online

Sir Thomas More script is only surviving copy of a play in the bard’s hand and is one of 300 texts being digitised in run-up to British Library exhibition The last surviving play script handwritten by William Shakespeare, in which he imagines Sir Thomas More making an impassioned plea for the humane treatment of refugees, is to be made available online by the British Library. The manuscript is one of 300 newly digitised treasures shining a light on the wider society and culture that helped shape Shakespeare’s imagination. All will be available to view on a new website before an extensive exhibition on the playwright at the library next month. Continue reading...









Frances Hardinge’s The Lie Tree wins Costa book of the year 2015

Work of ‘great narrative tension’ first children’s book to win overall Costa prize since Philip Pullman in 2001 A “multi-layered page turner” set in the fiercely male-dominated Victorian scientific community has became only the second children’s book to win one of the UK’s most prestigious literary prizes.
Frances Hardinge’s The Lie Tree was named the Costa book of the year at a ceremony in central London on Tuesday night. Continue reading...









TS Eliot prize: poet Sarah Howe wins with ‘amazing’ debut

Judges hail daring use of form in a collection that examines poet’s joint British and Chinese heritage A new voice, who judges say “will change British poetry”, has won the TS Eliot poetry prize. Sarah Howe, a fellow at Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute, was awarded the £20,000 prize for Loop of Jade, which explores her dual British and Chinese heritage. Howe’s work – the first debut poetry collection to win the British prize since it was inaugurated in 1993 – triumphed over a particularly strong shortlist, which featured some of poetry’s biggest names, including Don Paterson, Claudia Rankine, Sean O’Brien and Les Murray. Continue reading...









Ladybird guide to ‘the husband’ tops Christmas bestseller list

Spoof handbook part of series written by Joel Morris and Jason Hazeley and proves popular stocking filler for festive period A husband, many of us will be discovering this Christmas, can remember football scores, all his old car number plates and most of Withnail & I - but “cannot remember what his wife asked him to bring back from the shops.” This pearl of wisdom is contained in the tongue-in-cheek Ladybird book, How it Works: The Husband, which has won this year’s Christmas bestseller title. Continue reading...









British Library uses MoD maps to chart its 2016 exhibition lineup

Declassified documents will form part of show on 20th century maps, while other exhibition topics include Shakespeare, punk and Don Quixote

Recently declassified British Ministry of Defence (MoD) maps with imaginary Cold War battles will go on public display for the first time in a major exhibition next year.

The British Library on Thursday announced its 2016 exhibition programme that will include the strikingly diverse subjects of 20th century maps, Shakespeare, punk between 1976-78, and Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote.

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Marlon James wins the Man Booker prize 2015

Author of A Brief History of Seven Killings – a fictional account of an attempt to take Bob Marley’s life – first Jamaican writer to win prestigious prize

Marlon James has become the first Jamaican writer to win the Man Booker prize, taking the award for an epic, uncompromising novel not for the faint of heart. It brims with shocking gang violence, swearing, graphic sex, drug crime but also, said the judges, a lot of laughs.

Visceral and uncompromising ... but it’s also an ingeniously structured feat of storytelling

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Jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi named co-winner of PEN Pinter prize

Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales accepts award on Badawi’s behalf and criticises British government for close links to Saudi regime

A Saudi blogger who was jailed, fined and publicly flogged after being convicted of charges including “violating Islamic values and propagating liberal thought” has been named co-winner of the 2015 PEN Pinter prize.

Raif Badawi will share the prize with the British poet and literary critic James Fenton, who highlighted Badawi’s courage in a speech at the British Library in London.

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Claudia Rankine’s Citizen wins Forward poetry prize

Citizen: An American Lyric, described by jury as a ‘powerful book for our time’, collects £10,000 award for best collection

A book described by one critic as eavesdropping “on America and a racism that has never gone away” has won the top award at the 2015 Forward prizes for poetry.

Claudia Rankine has already won the National Book Critics Circle award in the US for Citizen: An American Lyric. On Monday night at a ceremony in London she was named winner of the Forward prize for best collection.

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Man Booker prize 2015: US literary agent among 13 writers on longlist

Bill Clegg among debut novelists on list of writers considered for prestigious prize, while established names include Anne Enright and Marilynne Robinson

An American literary agent known for his ruthless negotiating and memoirs recounting his struggles with crack-cocaine and alcohol has made it on to the 2015 Man Booker longlist with his debut novel.

Bill Clegg is one of 13 writers who will compete for the £50,000 prize which, for the second year, considers writers of all nationalities writing in English.

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