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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David Mitchell publishes story on Twitter

David Mitchell is promoting his upcoming novel The Bone Clocks, which will be released on 2 September, by publishing a short story The Right Sort on Twitter.

The 280-tweet tale about a teenage boy tripping on his mother’s Valium pills will be posted in short bursts at 7am to 5pm on a daily basis this week.

The opening line was tweeted this morning: “We get off the Number 10 bus at a pub called ‘The Fox and Hounds’. ‘If anyone asks,’ Mum tells me, ‘say we came by taxi.’”

Mitchell is the author of Ghostwritten, winner of the Mail on Sunday/John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, and Cloud Atlas, shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

The Guardian has previously challenged a number of well-regarded writers from AM Homes to Hari Kunzru to produce Twitter fiction.

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Decide theme for Guardian’s BookBench

The National Literacy Trust’s Books about Town fundraising scheme involving a series of book-shaped bench sculptures decorated by well-known artists has recently been launched, and the Guardian wants readers to decide the theme of the 51st BookBench.

Suggestions need to have a connection with London, and be either an iconic character or book. These can be posted in the comment thread of the Guardian’s London literary benches: who should be number 51? article by Wednesday 9 July. The newspaper’s top ten favourite ideas will then be included in a poll.

War Horse BookBench.

War Horse BookBench.

Already existing BookBenches include George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, Cressida Cowell’s How To Train Your Dragon, and Michael Morpurgo’s War Horse (pictured).

In other Books about Town related news, the charity is also hoping to create a Guinness World Record on 19 July at 1pm for the most number of people dressed as Sherlock in the morning. The event is taking place by the Sherlock BookBench, and tickets can be obtained on EventBrite for between £5 to £15.

Update (9 July)

Poll now open to choose a favourite title from a list of ten:

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot
The Diary of a Nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith
The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
London Fields by Martin Amis
Adrian Mole by Sue Townsend

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Guardian’s First World War week

The Guardian’s children’s book site is holding a First World War week, which has already started today with Mick Manning showing his grandfather Charlie’s war experiences through pictures, and book recommendations from Michael Morpurgo to Melvin Burgess.

Tomorrow two young Guardian members will be interviewing Morpurgo; readers can gain insight into the anthology Only Remembered; and film and stage productions of Private Peaceful will be explained. What is more, Marcia Williams, Archies’ War scribe, will be sharing her top ten surprising facts about the conflict.

On Wednesday, Burgess’ Mother and Mrs Etherington story from War Girls will be available to read; bibliophiles can find out John Boyne’s motivations for writing Stay Where You Are And Then Leave; and a gallery of the First World War through letters can be viewed as a slideshow.

The following day, Tony Bradman reveals his favourite ten First World War books for children, and readers will be able to discover the objects that have inspired Sheena Wilkinson and AL Kennedy’s stories.

Then on Friday, Megan Rix explores animal war heroes like donkeys, horses and baboons. There will also be a quiz, the first chapter of Valentine Joe by Rebecca Stevens, and a readers’ review roundup.

And on the last day, there will be an impressive gallery of images from Line of Fire with captions by Barroux.

The battle is also being marked by a number of other organisations including the British Library with their Enduring War: Grief, Grit and Humour exhibition, and Vintage Classics has released a special edition of All Quiet on the Western Front.

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Brand new Snoopy gift series

The Philosophy of SnoopyA brand new Snoopy gift series PEANUTS GUIDE TO LIFE will launch in September this year.

The first four titles are The Philosophy of Snoopy; The Wisdom of Woodstock; The Genius of Charlie Brown; and Life Lessons from Lucy, and will be followed by another eight books next year. The books will feature Charles Schulz’s original strips, and will be released as small format hardback editions.

Next year marks the 65th anniversary of the first Peanuts comic strip, and the 50th anniversary of the television special A Charlie Brown Christmas. It will also see the release of the 3D feature film from the makers of Ice Age and Rio.

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Laurie Lee’s 100th birthday

Vintage Classics' new hardback edition of Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee.

Vintage Classics’ new hardback edition of Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee.

Laurie Lee, described by the Independent as “One of the great writers of the twentieth century”, was born 100 years ago today, and Vintage Classics has marked the occasion with a new hardback edition of the vibrant memoir Cider with Rosie. Mark Hearld has created beautiful new illustrations with inspiration from the British countryside, and War Horse author Michael Morpurgo has penned the introduction. The special book also contains facsimiles of early drafts. Additionally, there is a paperback edition of Cider with Rosie introduced by the singer Cerys Matthews, and illustrated by Jeff Fisher, plus A Rose for Winter introduced by the author Chris Stewart.

Penguin has joined the celebrations with the recent release of Red Sky at Sunrise, an autobiographical trilogy featuring not only Cider with Rosie, but also As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning and A Moment of War, as well as monochrome photographic editions of the last two titles mentioned.

The British Library held an event at their Terrace Restaurant on the 6 June with Louis de Bernières, Tim Dee, Adam Horovitz, P.J. Kavanagh and Brian Patten, and a display at the Library’s Sir John Ritblat Treasures section can still be viewed until the 20 July.

Jessy Lee, Laurie Lee’s daughter, commented: “This is a very special year for the Lee family and for my father’s literary legacy.”

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