Dave McKean’s Gothic artwork for British Library

Terror and WonderBatman artist Dave McKean has created a Frankenstein and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde-inspired piece of art for the British Library’s new Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination exhibition.

The huge collection charts 250 years of chilling literature from the manuscripts and rare editions of Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist to the stories produced by contemporary scribes like Angela Carter and Sarah Waters.

Artworks by Henry Fuseli and William Blake will also be compared to modern art and photography, costumes and films from Alexander McQueen to Stanley Kubrick.

Greg Buzwell, the exhibition’s co-curator, said: “Dave’s artwork brilliantly captures the drama and intensity of the Gothic imagination, something which we explore in detail in Terror and Wonder. Ever since the publication of Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto in 1764, Gothic themes and ideas have provided a rich source of inspiration for writers, filmmakers, artists, musicians and fashion designers; adding colour, wonder and a dash of delicious fear to our lives.”

McKean’s picture will be used to promote the display as posters around London, and as a six-metre high installation in the Library’s entrance hall.

Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be open from 3 October 2014 until 20 January 2015.

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David Walliams’ new Awful Auntie book

Awful AuntieDavid Walliams’ new children’s book Awful Auntie will be released on 25 September this year.

The titular character is plotting to snatch Lady Stella Saxby’s inheritance away from her, but cheeky Soot, the cockney ghost of a chimney sweep, and Stella are not willing to make this an easy task.

The story will be illustrated by Tony Ross who has previously worked on Walliams’ fiction books Billionaire Boy, Gangsta Granny, Ratburger and the Demon Dentist, plus the scribe’s debut picture book The Slightly Annoying Elephant. Quentin Blake has also illustrated the bestselling author’s work including The Boy in the Dress and Mr Stink.

Ann-Janine Murtagh, HarperCollins Children’s Book Publisher, commented: “I am always delighted by the arrival of a new David Walliams book – he’s such a bold and brilliant storyteller with an extraordinary imagination, who always delivers something original and unexpected for his readers. Awful Auntie is exquisitely written with a timeless charm that marks it out as a book that will be adored by his fans, but is also destined to be an absolute classic in the future. Set to be the biggest book of the year, I have no doubt it will be a huge hit and sell more than ever this Christmas.”

Awful Auntie (hardback edition) is priced at £12.99.

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Talking Sherlock Holmes statue

Upstairs Downstairs actor Ed Stoppard and scribe Anthony Horowitz have given the Sherlock Holmes statue in London’s Baker Street a voice as part of Sing London’s Talking Statues project. An array of writers and actors, including Hugh Bonneville, Jacqueline Wilson and Patrick Stewart, were asked to create recordings for 35 public statues in different parts of London and Manchester.

People can swipe their phones on the Talking Statues tag to receive phone calls from Isaac Newton at the British Library, Peter Pan at The Royal Parks, The Reading Girl at Manchester Central Library and more.

Stoppard said: “Sherlock Holmes is a character with whom I have long been fascinated. It was a pleasure to give the statue an inner voice. I hope that passers by will enjoy hearing him.”

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Joanna Vanderham to star in BBC’s The Go-Between

Joanna Vanderham, who previously starred in the department store drama series The Paradise, is set to appear in the 90-minute adaptation of The Go-Between by LP Hartley.

The 20th century story looks at Leo Colston’s childhood memories triggered by the discovery of a 1900 diary.

Other cast members include Mayday actress Lesley Manville, Titanic actor Stephen Campbell Moore and Shameless star Ben Batt.

Vanderham commented: “I am so excited to have been asked to play Marian Maudsley in the BBC’s new adaptation of this classic novel. I hope to bring the spirit of LP Hartley’s iconic and wonderful story to life on screen along with the fantastic cast lined up for The Go-Between.”

The drama forms part of the BBC’s classic 20th century literature season, which also features Jed Mercurio’s adaptation of DH Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Ben Vanstone’s adaptation of Laurie Lee’s Cider With Rosie and JB Priestley’s play An Inspector Calls.

The Go-Between will be shown next year.

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Booktrust’s free books for neonatal wards

Booktrust has been offering comfort to families with premature or poorly babies in neonatal wards in the form of free books.

These gifts will help to create strong and loving bonds between parents and babies, reduce stress levels, and promote good reading habits.

Kayele Clifton, a mother who gave birth seven weeks early after major heart surgery, enjoys reading Super Duck by Jez Alborough to her baby Archie in Saint Mary’s newborn intensive care unit in Manchester. She is particularly happy that the story will enable her son to get used to the sound of her voice.

And Catherine Hamilton, whose son had major surgery at four days old in St George’s Hospital, commented: “Reading stories to your baby is something you can understand. It’s a shock to see your baby so ill, you can’t really parent like you expected to, so reading is a familiar comfort.”

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Paul Wright’s Simon Armitage painting at National Portrait Gallery

Simon Armitage portrait painted by Paul Wright.

Simon Armitage portrait painted by Paul Wright.

Paul Wright’s oil painting of the poet Simon Armitage is currently displayed at the National Portrait Gallery’s BP Portrait Award exhibition. The picture was commissioned by a friend of the artist and sitter, Andrew Moorehouse, who has privately published a selection of Armitage’s writing.

Armitage has been awarded the Sunday Times Young Author of the Year, the Keats-Shelley Poetry Prize, and a CBE for services to poetry. He has recently created a poem with the University of Sheffield that literally tackles the problem of pollution In Praise of Air.

Other paintings included in the exhibition are portraits of art forger John Myatt by Edward Sutcliffe and Li Wu Da, chef James Martin by Henrietta Graham, and actor Timothy Spall by Tim Wright.

The BP Portrait Award will run at the National Portrait Gallery until 21 September, and is available to see for free.

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Mortuary to be named after Val McDermid

The CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger award winner Val McDermid will have a mortuary named after her at the University of Dundee.

Members of the public contributed donations to the university’s “Million for a Morgue” campaign, and voted for which writer the morgue should be named after.

The campaign was backed by the writers McDermid, Lee Child, Jeffery Deaver, Jeff Lindsay, Stuart MacBride, Tess Gerritsen, Peter James, Kathy Reichs, Mark Billingham, Harlan Coben and Caro Ramsay.

McDermid said: “This is a very proud moment for me… The work that’s being done in this mortuary and the knowledge it will communicate means better life chances for all of us. For once, we crime writers have had a chance to put life ahead of death and I’m thrilled to have been part of it… A huge thanks to everyone who put their hands in their pockets to support the campaign.”

The dissecting room in the new morgue will also be given a scribe’s name, MacBride, creator of the Logan McRae series.

“I’m very proud to have been involved in the campaign and while I didn’t win the coveted prize of having it named after me, I couldn’t have picked a better person to be pipped at the post by than Val,” commented MacBride.

“And finding out that they’re going to include the Stuart MacBride Dissecting Room in the Val McDermid Mortuary is a really big honour for me. As runner-up prizes go it’s pretty damn special…It’s a really important project and every pound the public have donated is going to make a huge difference to the future of anatomy, forensic science, and medical training.”

MacBride’s The Completely Wholesome Adventures of Skeleton Bob, reviewed by McDermid as “Deliciously macabre” and by James as “brilliant, funny and gorgeously illustrated”, can be purchased through the university’s website. All profits for the story featuring a bony cartoon character in a pink-knitted jumper will go towards the morgue campaign.

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