Cover Stories: Princess Michael; Antony Sher; Patrick Leigh Fermor

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The Independent Culture

Princess Michael has taken to the road to promote The Serpent and the Moon (Simon & Schuster), her biography of her ancestors Catherine de Medici and Diane de Poitiers, rivals at the court of Henri II of France. At an "at home", with her husband looking proudly on, the Princess spoke passionately on her subject. Apparently, Philippa Gregory - whose novel The Other Boleyn Girl was this week bought by Miramax - has advised her she should take up historical fiction. So the Princess is musing on how to approach her next project: Elizabeth Stuart, daughter of James I, known as the "Winter Queen".

* The actor Antony Sher recently announced he planned no more novels - because nobody noticed them. But he has accepted a commission from Nick Hern Books for Primo: the Story Behind the Show. The National Theatre's production of Primo Levi's If This is a Man, a one-man show directed by Richard Wilson, sold out fast and Sher's portrayal of Levi won universal acclaim. Now, the actor will write about discovering Levi's book, and how he overcame Levi family objections to bring the project to the stage.

* The British Guild of Travel Writers has bestowed on Patrick Leigh Fermor its Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognises a 60-year writing career and such landmarks of the genre as Between the Woods and the Water and A Time of Gifts. His wartime role in the SOE in Crete was also chronicled in the Dirk Bogarde film, Ill Met by Moonlight. The 89-year-old author was at his home in Greece when the award was made, but said that he would dash into the sea and "swim towards the noonday sun revelling in this moment of glory".

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