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Weekly Roundup: Judges in competition, world domination for Hilary Mantel and Will Self as BBCR4's writer in residence.

Weekly Roundup: Judges in competition, world domination for Hilary Mantel and Will Self as BBCR4's writer in residence.

In a nice coincidence, while the Man Booker International Prize judges have been in Jaipur releasing their list of finalists for this year's prize, back in England, Robert Macfarlane has found himself on a list of contenders. The chairman of the 2013 Man Booker judges has just been nominated for the Duff Cooper Prize for his book The Old Ways. The prize, named after the fabled writer/diplomat, is for the best work of non-fiction and has a distinguished list of former winners, including a fellow Man Booker judge, Robert Douglas Fairhurst, who won in 2011 with Becoming Dickens. The event on 20th February is traditionally sponsored by Pol Roger champagne, which makes the subtitle of Macfarlane's book particularly apt: “A Journey on Foot”.

By way of a footnote, another of this year's judges, Martha Kearney, is already a winner. She scooped (literally in fact) this week's Great Comic Relief Bake Off prize for her deft way with chocolate biscuits, lemon meringue pie and beehive cake. Her skills should keep her fellow judges fed during their meetings, though bibs might be in order since she kept dropping her confections.

Hilary Mantel's path to world domination continues unabated. It has just been announced that her MB winning novels Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies are to be turned into a pair of plays by the Royal Shakespeare Company. A television adaptation is already underway. The plays are scheduled to be staged from December this year to March 2014 at Stratford-upon-Avon. What is really exciting is that according to Gregory Doran, the RSC's artistic director, Mantel is overseeing the scripts herself and has “promised to put all sorts of new bits in that she’s left out of the novels”. He also called the books “the hottest literary property in the Western world”. Mantel will be collaborating with Mike Poulton and hopes the transition from novel to script will be smooth: “When I write, I write in scenes; I’m writing lots and lots of dialogue. So the books are in fact gigantic plays. So the next logical step seems to be to actually take them on to the stage.”

Will Self, shortlisted last year for Umbrella, is apparently in negotiations with BBC Radio Four to become its “writer in residence” . His duties will include blogging, regular appearances on various programmes (including Today) and acting as a creative figurehead for the station. Radio Four's controller Gwyneth Williams hopes to “throw some fireworks on to the network – colourful, unpredictable, original”. With Self she may be lobbing an entire pyrotechnical factory on to it.