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Writers' News

'If you start the nitpicking, you never stop': Author Sir Michael Morpurgo warns publishers against rewriting classics to suit modern sensibilities following row sparked by edits to Roald Dahl's books – Monday April 24, 2023

Sir Michael Morpurgo has warned publishers against rewriting classic books to suit modern sensibilities following a row over 'woke' edits to works of fictions by authors including Roald Dahl.

The award-winning children's novelist, whose works include War Horse, Private Peaceful and Friend or Foe, argued that if publishers 'start nitpicking' language now deemed controversial they will 'never stop'.

In an interview with Times Radio today, Sir Michael said the focus should be to 'tell the same story' in a new way.

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Hay-on-Wye and beyond: 5 of the UK & Ireland's best spring literary festivals – Sunday April 23, 2023

Literary festivals are all over the UK and Ireland this month, in locations just as appealing as the books they showcase.

1. Hay Festival

Set on the beautiful Wales-England border, this year’s packed festival includes travel writer Kapka Kassabova delivering the 2023 Jan Morris Lecture, Ray Mears discussing the British woodland, and Bear Grylls and Ranulph Fiennes celebrating a love of wild spaces. Author-led tours with Wayfair Walks explore the Brecon Beacons, while the Lviv BookForum brings Ukraine’s biggest book festival to Wales. 25 May to 4 June.

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Never too late: over-50s urged to write fiction with prize for debut novel – Sunday April 23, 2023

London book fair, which concluded earlier this month, always brings with it a flurry of headlines about debut authors signing six-figure publishing deals. Most of these have at least one thing in common – their youth.

As a result, anyone with an ambition to be a novelist might think that the ship has sailed once they leave their 30s. But fear not: there’s an increasing drive to encourage those who come to writing past the first flush of youth that it’s never too late.

At this year’s fair, literary agency Jenny Brown Associates launched an award for debut novelists in the UK aged 50 and above..

“The bestseller lists are full of debut novelists who are older, but the perception is that you have to be young when your first book comes out,” says literary agent Lisa Highton of Jenny Brown Associates.

“But being a debut is not just about being a shiny, sparkly, young person. The reason we launched the award was to say to people over 50 yes, you too can be a shiny, sparkly, new writer– just older.”

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O’Grady and de Pass promoted to agents at The Soho Agency – Tuesday April 18, 2023

Niamh O’Grady and Marina de Pass have both been promoted to agents at The Soho Agency.

De Pass represents commercial, book-club and literary fiction and has just concluded a 12-way auction for her first non-fiction project One Pot, One Portion by Eleanor Wilkinson (Ebury).

Other highlights include Carole Hailey’s BBC Radio 2 Book Club Pick The Silence Project (Corvus) and Joanna Miller’s debut The Bee Orchids, pre-empted by Fig Tree just ahead of the book fair and already sold in a number of international territories. 

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Staróg Prize launched for Irish writers of children’s fiction – Monday April 17, 2023

Walker Books, PaperCuts Literary Consultancy Ltd and the Sunday Independent have teamed up to create a new writing prize, open to writers of Irish nationality and those resident in Ireland and Northern Ireland.  

The Staróg Prize will award an international publishing contract with Walker Books, representation with PaperCuts, and coverage in the Sunday Independent to a new voice in children’s fiction. Two runners-up will also receive a one-year mentorship from Gráinne Clear, senior commissioning editor at Walker Books, and Polly Nolan, founder and m.d. of PaperCuts Literary Consultancy, to further develop their work.  

The award will be open to submissions from 1st May 2023 via an online form, and will close on Sunday 16th July 2023, with the longlist, shortlist and winner announced in October 2023. Submissions must be completed works of fiction in English aimed at readers between seven and 13 years of age.   

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Publishers rewrite Jeeves and Wooster books to remove 'unacceptable' prose by PG Wodehouse with trigger warnings added to revised editions telling readers characters may be 'outdated' – Sunday April 16, 2023

The light-hearted escapades of Jeeves and Wooster have become the latest victims of the seemingly relentless march of literature's word police. 

PG Wodehouse's books on the pair's aristocratic misadventures have been identified as having what the publishers describe as 'unacceptable' prose. 

The comic novels have had passages cut or reworked for new editions by Penguin Random House, as well as trigger warnings added to warn readers of ‘outdated’ themes.

They are latest in a growing series of classic works which have been quietly purged by woke publishers, alongside the books of Roald Dahl and Ian Fleming’s James Bond series.

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Former Picador publisher Gwyn Jones joins Greyhound Literary as associate agent – Tuesday April 11, 2023

Philip Gwyn Jones, formerly publisher at Picador, has joined Greyhound Literary as an associate agent, starting today (11th April).

Gwyn Jones, who joined the literary Pan Macmillan imprint in June 2020 from Scribe UK, departed the company by mutual agreement last year to be succeeded by Mary Mount.

During his time as publisher of Picador he led commemorative activity and new publishing around two major anniversaries – Picador’s 50th and Picador Poetry’s 25th – and the imprint saw several titles top the bestseller lists and compete for literary prizes. 

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Martin McDonagh: I'll use my will to block Roald Dahl-style edits to my work – Sunday April 9, 2023

Martin McDonagh made the comments after publishers removed references in Dahl's classic children's books to minimise offence to readers

Martin McDonagh, the filmmaker and playwright, has suggested he could use his will to block Roald Dahl-style posthumous edits to his work.

He warned that some theatre companies have refused to put on his plays in recent years because he refused to sanction changes to make the language more “palatable.”

But when asked about the potential for his work to be edited after his death, the 53-year-old indicated his will would prevent any changes. 

It comes after publishers and sensitivity readers removed references to weight, height, mental health, gender and colour in Dahl's classic children's books to minimise offence.

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A look ahead to the inaugural Bournemouth Writing Festival – Tuesday April 4, 2023

The inaugural Bournemouth Writing Festival (April 21-23) offers more than 60 activities designed to improve and progress people’s writing – and how to get published! A mix of free and paid-for events, involving over 70 experienced writers and professionals, have been carefully curated to foster inspiration, networking and stimulate creativity, whatever your experience level is.

Held in venues within Bournemouth town centre, including St Peter’s Church and Art University Bournemouth’s Palace Court Theatre in Upper Hinton Road, television and film screenwriters, best-selling authors, poets, journalists, publicists, writing coaches, editors and publishers will be sharing their advice through talks and practical writing workshops.

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Books: As demand for sex fiction hots up, UK bookshelves will soon be heaving under weight of steamy titles – Tuesday March 28, 2023

Readers can expect a stream of erotic fiction, memoir and relationship guides to appear in book shops, and for titles to have a greater focus on inclusivity than traditional mainstream offerings

Things are about to start hotting up between the covers for British bookworms after publishers predicted bookshelves across the country will soon be heaving with steamy titles.

A host of offerings centering on sex, relationships and intimacy is due to be released in the coming months to cater for readers starved of physical closeness and affection during the Covid-19 pandemic and seeking escape from the bleakness wrought by the cost of living crisis.

Readers can expect a stream of erotic fiction, memoir and relationship guides to appear in book shops, and for titles to have a greater focus on inclusivity than traditional mainstream offerings – which have typically focused on heterosexual monogamous relationships – publishers, literary agents and authors have revealed.

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