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Weekly Roundup: Portraits and poetry

Weekly Roundup: Portraits and poetry

A display of the pick of the images submitted for the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize opened this week at the National Portrait Gallery. Among the sitters – from Mo Farah to an anonymous butcher – looking out from the walls with their best 1,000-yard stares is Hilary Mantel with something of the French Lieutenat's Woman about her. Her prize-winning touch doesn't seem to extend to photography though. Her portrait, by Michael Birt, didn't win the £12,000 prize.

In a piece in the Guardian about the importance of the original form and setting of poems, Rick Gekoski (chair of the Man Booker International Prize in 2011) recalls how as a young academic at the University of Warwick he once refused to teach a course on 18th-century poetry. The reason? Undergraduates were given only the text of William Blake's The Tyger and he believed they should have Blake's illustrated version instead because the “quizzical smile” on the tiger's face is “crucial to a correct 'reading' – viewing! – of the poem”. It was at this point Gekoski recognised he was a literary “fundamentalist”.

This week Google ran a “Google Doodle” on their search page to celebrate the 165th birthday of Bram Stoker, the Irish writer behind Dracula (the anniversary seems rather random, perhaps they hit the “I'm feeling lucky” tab). A new edition of Dracula was  published earlier this year to mark the centenary of his death, with an introduction by Colm Tóibín (Man Booker shortlisted in 1999, longlisted 2009). Previous literary “doodles” have included Edward Lear and Charles Dickens (for their 200th birthdays) but, so far, no living writers. Readers of this website might like to come up with some Man Booker names to put to Google: next year, for example, sees the 20th anniversary of the death of William Golding (winner 1980) or the 70th birthday of Peter Carey (winner 1988 and 2001).