Cover Stories: Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction; Writing on the Wall;

A week of prizes and Liverpudlian news
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The Independent Culture

It's been another big week for prizes, with Michael Burleigh's The Third Reich beating favourite Richard Fortey's Trilobite! to take the £30,000 Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction. The jury, chaired by busy BBC political editor Andrew Marr, described it as "a work of authentic historical genius". Burleigh, a professor at Cardiff, is the author of two previous books on Nazi Germany, and has won awards for TV work but never for a book. He joked that "at 46 and a smoker, it might be my last chance". The search is now on for a new Johnson benefactor, as the anonymous businessman who has so far supported it has come to the end of his agreed three-year term.

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Also on Wednesday, the Aventis Prize for science books went to the tiny Sort of Books for Robert Kunzig's Mapping the Deep. The company has published three books in its short life and two have won awards. Finally, Doris Lessing has received Spain's prestigious Prince of Asturias Literature Prize which (like the David Cohen Prize she also won this year) recognises a body of work.

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Surprisingly, for a city famous for people good with words, Liverpool has not had its own literary festival. However, for six days from 19 June, it will play host to Writing on the Wall. Billed as feast of events "looking at real-life issues with larger-than-life characters", it boasts sessions on crime, humour, docudrama, local history and publishing, along with poetry, songwriting and radio. Featured writers include Linda Grant, Jimmy McGovern and Irvine Welsh. Further details at: www.writingonthewall.org.uk

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More Liverpudlian news: bloodied but unbowed by the brickbats hurled at his poetry collection, Blackbird Singing, Paul McCartney is reported to be ready for a new book project, this time a tie-in with a TV show and CD. Wingspan is billed as "a biography" of his post-Beatle band, with his own text and photos, many so far unseen, by his late wife Linda. No details yet on a publisher.

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