Virago to make ‘any necessary corrections’ to Naomi Wolf book
Virago says it stands by Naomi Wolf and the thesis for her book but will make “any necessary corrections” after she was accused on the BBC of misunderstanding a key legal term.
The author appeared on Radio 3 to discuss Outrages: Sex, Censorship and the Criminalisation of Love (Virago) and was challenged by historian Dr Matthew Sweet over claims in the work that, after 1857, there were “several dozen” executions of men for homosexual sex in the UK.
Her claim was mainly based on Old Bailey records showing sentences of “death recorded” had been imposed.
But Sweet told her she had misunderstood the records, quoting one particular case of a 14-year-old who was reported in her book as being executed in 1859 for committing sodomy. He told her the boy was not executed at all and he was later discharged.
Quoting the Old Bailey definition, he told her “death recorded” was a category that actually allowed judges to abstain from pronouncing the death sentence if the subject was “a fit subject for pardon”.
“I don’t think any of the executions you’ve identified here actually happened,” he said.
Appearing to acknowledge this could be a mistake, she replied: “Well that’s a really important thing to investigate.”
He then told her the teenager in question had committed an indecent assault on a six-year-old boy and served a two-and-a-half year sentence, adding he couldn’t find any evidence that any of the cases mentioned in the book were consensual. Wolf said she would “update the book accordingly”.
In a statement, Virago said: “Virago stand by their author Naomi Wolf and the thesis of her book Outrages which is based on her Oxford PHD. With Naomi Wolf and her American publisher Houghton Mifflin we will make any necessary corrections.”
At the Hay Festival, Wolf stood by her main thesis but acknowledged she had made several errors, the Guardian reported.
She said: “Some of you may have seen that there has been a healthy debate about two errors I did make in this book, and they’re on page 71 and 72. Hang on to your copies because it will be a collectors’ item because it will not [be] in the next printing.”
BBC Arts launches ‘ambitious’ new season celebrating the novel
BBC Arts is launching an “ambitious new season” across BBC TV and radio this autumn with a year-long festival celebrating the novel and a series on how novels have shaped the world.
The centre piece of the season will be the three part BBC Two Series, “The Novels That Shaped Our World”. The series will examine the novel from three unique perspectives: Empire and slavery, women’s voices and working class experiences. These unique films will argue that the novel has always been a revolutionary agent of social change spearheading shifts in both colonial and post-colonial attitudes, female equality and social mobility.
This will be accompanied in the autumn by BBC Arts’ The Novels That Shaped our World Festival, a multi-platform collaboration between the BBC, libraries and reading groups that will reveal and explore the top 100 novels which have had an impact over the last three centuries.
The list will be chosen by a panel of six: journalist and broadcaster Mariella Frostrup, actor and writer Zawe Ashton, Bradford Festival Literary Director Syima Aslam, author Kit de Waal, journalist and editor of The Times Literary Supplement Stig Abell and author Alexander McCall Smith. The panel will appear on Radio 2’s Book Club to discuss deliberations before the 100 novels, all in the English language and all works of fiction, will be revealed at a live event hosted by Radio 2’s Jo Whiley at the British Library and streamed into libraries onto the Living Knowledge Network in late autumn 2019, to coincide with the BBC Two series The Novels That Shaped Our World. The panel will also be appearing at literary festivals, including Bradford Literary Festival and Edinburgh International Book Festival.
The books “will fuel a year-long engagement campaign working closely with agencies including Libraries Connected, CILIP, the Library and Information Association and the Reading Agency and Publishers’ Association”, said the BBC. There will be events in libraries to provide a platform to discuss the novels that continue to shape our world and information packs will be made available from January to October 2020 to reading groups for them to discuss and debate the categories and novels.
Using the panel’s choices, a team from the University of Wolverhampton will provide quantitative and qualitative analysis of the public’s reading preferences and judgement of literary quality and the results will be revealed as the Festival culminates in October 2020 to coincide with the annual Libraries Week.
BBC Arts acting director Lamia Dabboussy said: “The emergence of the English language novel three hundred years ago has resulted in some of the most entertaining, exhilarating and extraordinary works of art of all time. It has also been an agent of immense and radical social change, altering the way we look at class, gender and race. From engagement campaigns to landmark series across BBC TV and Radio our hope is that The Novels That Shaped Our World season and accompanying festival will encourage everyone to read more and discover new books and authors, from the classic to the contemporary.”
The 300th anniversary of the British novel will be marked, celebrated, debated and explored with other programming across BBC Radio, TV and Digital, which will be announced in due course.
Thomas Harris fan wins one-off gold edition of thriller
A Thomas Harris fan has won a one-off gold edition of the author’s latest thriller in a nationwide social media treasure hunt.
Gavin Dimmock, 50, from Yorkshire says he needs a new bookshelf for the priceless’ world first gold bullion edition of Cari Mora (William Heinemann), the long-awaited new novel by Hannibal Lecter author Harris.
The penultimate clue on Saturday, posted on Instagram, led treasure hunters to Gold Street in Manchester, where a final clue was unveiled in Latin: ‘Lapidis aquae decanus ordinetur porta’ – which translates as ‘May the dean of the stone of water be appointed at the gate’, or in other words, ‘Let the Deansgate (branch in Manchester) of Waterstones be put in order’.
Scores of fans who’d been following the treasure hunt flocked to the store, from Kent, London, Leicestershire, Yorkshire and the south coast, said PRH.
Dimmock said: “I’d been following the clues all week, and had a hunch about the last one. On most Saturdays I follow my football team Bradford City, but the season has just finished, so my wife dropped me at the train station and I headed to Manchester. And I couldn’t believe it when I got there and they told me I was the winner.
“I had plans to build new wall-to-wall shelving in our front room for my book collection but I’ll clearly need to re-think those plans now, as this astonishing edition will need to take centre stage. I’ll need to buy another copy though to read, as I don’t think I dare open my prize too much in case the case pages get folded or damaged. Maybe I’ll just get it out every few years for a special read.”
A fan of Harris since the late 1980s, Dimmock added: “I remember hearing an eerie radio ad for the original Silence of the Lambs book, three years before the film came out, which featured the chilling sound of footsteps. I had to get the book, and of course rushed out to see the film version, with Anthony Hopkins in superb form as Dr Lecter – and I’ve been a huge fan of Thomas Harris’ work ever since.”
The edition of Cari Mora is signed and contains one ounce of ethically-sourced 24 carat gold in its exclusive design and includes a rare signature illustration of an owl by the author, a motif from the new book.
Cari Mora is the first book from Harris in 13 years, and features new villain Hans-Peter Schneider who is hunting for $25million in cartel gold bullion hidden in the Miami Beach mansion of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar.
Other social media clues during the week-long treasure hunt included references to the new novel, such as, ‘Two men are 1,040 miles apart. Hans-Peter is in Key Largo, Jesus is in a city with a golden nickname. Which city is it?’
Rebecca Ikin, marketing director of Penguin Random House, said: “A new novel from Thomas Harris is really precious. Then you have the fact that Cari Mora opens so vividly with the premise of $25 million in cartel gold buried in Miami, and we were captivated by the idea of echoing that hunt for fans and readers in the real world. The Gold Bullion edition is the only one in existence, and Gavin truly has something to treasure for ever.”