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The Independent Culture
AFTER YEARS of speculation, Rupert Murdoch has made it clear he is not going to sell HarperCollins. Confirmation came via his purchase of the book-publishing interests of the US Hearst Corporation, Morrow and Avon. The deal makes HarperCollins a larger world publishing power, second in the US to Bertelsmann, which last year bought Random House. Bertelsmann, too, is showing its hand: a recent rationalisation in New York led to some good editorial heads rolling while, in Britain, the approach has been more cautious. Still, the moves here mean increased power for Chief Executive Gail Rebuck, one of Tone's Crones.

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CHRISTIE'S NEW York is preparing to auction items from the estate of Marilyn Monroe. Among her books are works by Joyce, Camus, Tolstoy and Kerouac (with a first edition of On the Road). There's also a Bible and - touchingly - Dr Spock's Baby and Child Care. The items will tour prior to sale, with a stop in London; proceeds will go to Literacy Partners.

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JOYCE CAROL Oates has written a new novel based on Monroe's life, which included two celebrity husbands, a dalliance with JFK and, say some, with his brother Robert, the Attorney General. Oates's extensive backlist includes Black Water, a novel inspired by events at Chappaquiddick. Broke Heart Blues, due this summer from Virago, explores the burden of celebrity.

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NO SOONER have we digested Delia's instructions on how to boil an egg than the BBC announces plans for How to Cook Part Two, on TV and in print. Each recipe will conclude with a shopping list - thus further exploiting the happy synergy between Smith and Sainsbury's. So that's sorted, then: the battle for the Christmas non-fiction number one will be fought between St Delia and Sir Alex Ferguson, playing for Hodder.

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THE JET-setting Pope John Paul II must always be on the look-out for good books. So no doubt he'll be enthralled by John Cornwell's Hitler's Pope: the secret history of Pius XII. It looks at the former Vatican lawyer who presided in Rome during the Nazi era and whose cosy relationship with Hitler ensured the Church withdraw from social action in exchange for financial support. Viking is bracing itself for controversy on publication in September.

The Literator

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