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The Independent Culture

We know from the increasing profile of Duchy of Cornwall produce in supermarkets that Prince Charles is a man of the soil. So the publication this autumn of The Garden at Highgrove comes as no great surprise. The Prince has been working with Candida Lycett Green, daughter of Sir John Betjeman, and the glossy volume will take us through the development of the gardens. Apparently, Charles now considers himself a right royal Capability Brown, and his publishers are describing his handiwork as truly amazing. HRH is no stranger to the book world - he has published his watercolours, written on architecture, and produced a bestselling children's book - and this project came about as a result of his friendship with Lord Weidenfeld, whose house will publish in September.

At the London Book Fair, Robson announced that they had signed Max Clifford, scourge of Tory politicians, to write his memoirs. The Max Factor, due this autumn, will tell the stories behind the headlines that helped bring down figures such as David Mellor. The acquisition is a coup for Robson, a small house whose fortunes have been kept afloat these last few years by Maureen Lipman bestsellers.

Roman Polanski, the director most celebrated for the 1968 film Rosemary's Baby and his marriage to Sharon Tate, murdered by Charles Manson, has bought screen rights to Wladyslaw Szpilman's autobiographical bestseller The Pianist, which tells of his survival in the Warsaw ghetto. Polanski says the story reminds him of his own youth in wartime Krakow: "I felt I had to bring it to the screen and, in so doing, face again that nightmarish period." Polanski, whose new film, The Ninth Gate starring Johnny Depp, opens in June, turned down the opportunity to direct Schindler's List because it was "just too close to home". Shooting The Pianist will begin in Poland this December.

Carmen Callil, founder of Virago and late boss of Chatto, is hoping to do for Vichy France what Antony Beevor did for Stalingrad. She has signed up with Picador for a study of collaboration. Publisher Peter Straus is predicting "a stunning work of social, personal and political history" in a "vividly drawn narrative". Darquier's Nebula will appear in 2002.