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Weekly Roundup: More Mantel and authors defending the defamation

Weekly Roundup: More Mantel and authors defending the defamation

Are there any prizes left for Hilary Mantel to win? Fresh from her Man Booker Prize and Costa triumphs she has now been awarded the biennial £40,000 David Cohen Prize for a career's work rather than just one novel (another MB winner, Julian Barnes, was the previous recipient). The prize is recognition for a 28-year and 13-book writing life. Among the judges were the former MB judge Kate Summerscale (2001) and Sarah Hall (shortlisted in 2004). It is a tad curious that the judges should have gone for someone so clearly at the top of their game, as Mantel herself pointed out: “much as there is a lifetime's worth of work behind me, there is still a lifetime's worth of work still to come”.

According to the Daily Mail Mark Rylance has been chosen to play Thomas Cromwell in the BBC's forthcoming six-hour adaptation of Mantel's Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. There is as yet no director and no other actors cast but the BBC were so keen to nab Rylance that they have agreed to wait until next year, when his schedule allows it, to start filming. Rylance may not have Cromwell’s physical heft but if the newspaper is right it is a brilliant piece of casting. His playing of Richard III at the Globe Theatre has been one of the stage highlights of the past few years and if anyone could out-Machiavelli Cromwell it was Richard. Both men, of course, came to sticky ends, though at least Cromwell wasn't buried under a Leicester council offices carpark.

A tranche of Man Booker writers, including former winners Salman Rushdie and Ian McEwan, Claire Tomalin (judge 1980), Michael Frayn (longlisted 2012) and Ali Smith (shortlisted 2005), added their considerable names to an open letter to David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Milliband defending the Defamation Bill against possible watering down. “Our libel laws are not just a national disgrace, but an international concern”, they wrote. In an interview last year Clegg disclosed that he started writing a novel himself in his twenties but it was “shockingly bad”, now he reads “religiously, every night before I go to sleep”, so the authors' letter may fall on at least one pair of sympathetic – if tired – eyes.