You are here

Cromwell, quick or slow?

Cromwell, quick or slow?

Three episodes in and the nation's press continues with its Wolf Hall obsession. One of the more interesting pieces to emerge recently is Mark Lawson's comparison of the stage and screen versions. Lawson, a Man Booker judge in 1992, points out the broad similarities between the versions of some of the other characters, but notes that the portrayals of the two Thomas Cromwells – Ben Miles on stage and Mark Rylance on screen – couldn't be more different: ‘Miles’s stage Cromwell is quick of wit, speech and feet, entering and leaving scenes with coiled urgency. On television, Rylance takes the opposite approach: coming into a room slowly then stopping dead, pausing before speaking and often halting again mid-sentence or speech.’ This contrast, Lawson reckons, is down to the demands of the form: ‘Miles’s Cromwell would have been too big and fast for TV, Rylance’s too small and slow for stage.’ The two actors cut their cloth to match.


Miles is shortly off to Broadway to reprise the role there – as will Lydia Leonard as Anne Boleyn and Nathaniel Parker as Henry VIII. However, when the plays open in April Bring Up the Bodies will be dropped from the title in favour of the appropriately Godfather-esque Wolf Hall: Parts 1 & 2. Name recognition meant that during the London run tickets for Wolf Hall outsold those for Bring Up the Bodies and the Americans are taking no chances.


The furore unleashed by 2013 Man Booker winner Eleanor Catton when she made some scathing comments about the New Zealand political establishment and the country's ambivalent attitudes towards ‘tall poppies’ such as herself continues to growl on. Perhaps rather sensibly she is making herself scarce at the moment: Catton will be in Taipei in mid-February for the Taipei International Book Exhibition keeping a safe number of miles between herself and her home country. Not that she is backing down – she has promised to give interviews in which she will ‘discuss the frightening swiftness with which the powerful Right move to discredit and silence those who question them’. Seconds out round two – and possibly three and four . . . 


The 19-title longlist for the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award has just been announced. Worth £30,000 – the world's richest short-story prize – there is a strong Man Booker tang to it. Aminatta Forna, a judge of the 2013 Man Booker International Prize, judges this prize too; as does Alex Clark, a Man Booker judge in 2008; Louise Doughty, also a judge on the 2008 Man Booker, is this time longlisted as a writer; on the list too are one of last year's Man Booker nominees Joseph O'Neill and Mark Haddon, Man Booker longlisted in 2003 for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. The winner will be announced on 1st March.


Fans of David Mitchell, Man Booker shortlisted for number9dream and Cloud Atlas, will shortly have a new way of expressing their admiration. Mitchell is collaborating with an Irish jewellery maker Kathleen Holland to make 500 limited-edition pendants to be sold in support of an autism charity (Mitchell has a child with autism). The pendants are based on the one given to Holly Sykes, the central character in his Man Booker longlisted last novel The Bone Clocks, they cost 70 euros and can be bought here. Writers are often commended for their jewel-like prose, here is someone giving the praise a practical form.