Covert Stories: Water Cumbrian Literature Festival; Gore Vidal; The Friday Project

* For those within striking distance of the Lake District, the annual Words by the Water Cumbrian Literature Festival kicks off today for 10 days, on the shores of the lake at Keswick. Wordsworth is, of course, on the menu – so, too, Bob Dylan. There's a good deal of poetry in fact, including Blake Morrison, Alice Oswald, Sean O'Brien and Sylvia Plath, but the wide-ranging programme includes Roy Hattersley, Maggi Hambling, Mary Warnock and Lynne Truss. There's also a rare chance to hear Dr Rosalind Rawnsley, granddaughter of Canon Rawnsley, co-founder of the National Trust, in the Rawnsley family home, in a room designed by the Canon. Full details of the Festival at www.wordsbythewater.org.uk

* He has seen off Norman Mailer, whose contribution to life and letters he derided to be rewarded with a head-butting on live TV. Now Gore Vidal, a wheelchair-bound octogenarian, is to make what is likely to be his last visit to Britain. He arrives in May for three public events – for Intelligence², in conversation with Melvyn Bragg at the Royal Geographic Society; at the Brighton Festival, with Andrew Marr; and at the Hay Festival. His publisher Richard Beswick likens the visit to "Zeus descending from Mount Olympus to drop in on the mortals". No doubt he'll have plenty to say about the state of Britain – and the US election. Let's look forward to his final judgement on the Bush era.

* The Friday Project, launched in 2005 to develop books from online content, is up for sale, with Macmillan rumoured to be the likely buyer. With more than 40 titles published last year and a turnover of £2.2m, TFP would add a new dimension to Macmillan, where CEO Annette Thomas has promised investment in the trade division that was somewhat stifled under her predecessor, Richard Charkin.

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