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Even now, Russia cannot throw off the shackles of secrecy, as events in the Barents Sea proved. Imagine how tricky it must have been, then, to deal with the problem of Lenin's mistress. Inessa Armand was also his political muse and, although she had a state funeral, little is known about her. Newly released papers, including 150 letters, will provide her biographer Michael Pearson with a rich seam to mine. Duckworth will publish his book next year.

Even now, Russia cannot throw off the shackles of secrecy, as events in the Barents Sea proved. Imagine how tricky it must have been, then, to deal with the problem of Lenin's mistress. Inessa Armand was also his political muse and, although she had a state funeral, little is known about her. Newly released papers, including 150 letters, will provide her biographer Michael Pearson with a rich seam to mine. Duckworth will publish his book next year.

* Robin Oakley is to follow Michael Brunson and John Sargent (who is writing away for publication next autumn) on to the bookshelves. The man put out to grass by BBC TV has signed with Bantam for Inside Track, in which he will write about his career as a political journalist - and, no doubt, about the Corporation's disrespectful treatment of him.

* Element, the Shaftesbury-based mind, body and spirit publisher, has gone into receivership, with debts of up to £8m. The company's late payment of authors (and everyone else) was always at odds with its New Age subject-matter. There is almost no prospect of selling Element as a going concern - so no author is likely to see any money.

* Fans of Dr Kay Scarpetta, Patricia Cornwell's feisty forensic investigator, will be delighted to know that she is set for a screen debut. Sony Pictures has bought film rights to 11 published novels, and four as yet unwritten. The deal's size is said to dwarf those for Clancy and Grisham. As yet, there's no word on the actress who will play Dr S.

* The culture secretary, Chris Smith, broke some news close to his heart yesterday. The Jerwood Foundation has pledged £500,000 towards the Jerwood Collections Centre at the Wordsworth Trust - Smith's PhD thesis was on the Lake poet. Based in Grasmere, the Wordsworth Trust for British Romanticism holds 50,000 manuscripts and other items. The new centre - clad in Lake District slate but with climate-controlled rooms - will adjoin the present museum.

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