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Armando Iannucci recently said that the UK falls behind the US  when it comes to female comedy writers. Do you find it to be a male-dominated industry?

Dickens tops chart as classic tales remain a hit with parents

A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens' 1843 classic in which the stingy Ebenezer Scrooge discovers the generous Christmas spirit, is the book parents most want to pass on to their children, according to a new poll.

Book festival of the week: Edinburgh International Book Festival, Charlotte Square Gardens, Edinburgh

More than 800 writers, commentators and thinkers from 44 countries make up this year's festival, among them Nobel laureates, Booker and Pulitzer prize winners and poets laureate.

The Blagger's Guide To: Oldies

Will you still need me? Will you still feed me?

Cast away: Getting hooked on fishing requires persistence

Stephen Bayley: Compliments for angling? Not after my run-ins with rivers

Fishing? An excuse to travel to some purpose! To engage in something primal as opposed to the tinselly snares and trashy delusions of urban daily life. And an approach to the countryside, urgently needed in my case, with a meditative aspect.

Charles Dickens experts may have uncovered fresh works after completing project to digitise journals

Dickens experts believe they may have uncovered fresh additions to the writer's canon after completing a project to digitise the 19th century weekly journals that the celebrated author once edited.

One Minute With: Shirley Hughes, author & illustrator

Where are you now and what can you see?

<p>1. Night Thoughts by Robert Fraser</p>
<p>£30, oup.com</p>
<p>Colourful biography of the English surrealist poet David Gascoyne. Fabulous.</p>

The 10 Best new biographies

From Banksy and Putin to two men who ran across America

Haddon says: 'Being regarded as a hero by society is an unhealthy situation to be in'

One Minute With: Mark Haddon, novelist

Where are you now and what can you see?

Springtime bloom: The Secret Gardens of Sandwich

Kate Bush scoops South Bank award

Reclusive singer Kate Bush pipped Adele to a prestigious prize after her latest album was recognised at the South Bank Sky Arts Awards.

Charles Dickens; the letter of apology that he sent to William Brookes with his prized copy of David Copperfield

The superstitious Charles Dickens comes to light

The superstitious nature of Britain's greatest writer has come to light thanks to the sale of an inscribed first edition of Charles Dickens's favourite novel with its own intriguing backstory.

Last Man in Tower, By Aravind Adiga

I want you to sell me a storey ...

Reading and relaxation: Parade Gardens in Bath. The city is hosting the 'Independent' Literature Festival

Independent Bath Literature Festival: Follow in the footsteps of Austen, Defoe and Mr Pickwick

A glittering array of writers of fiction, poetry and politics will appear at the Independent Bath Literature Festival from next Friday. John Walsh looks forward to 10 days celebrating the written word.

Chalk Talk: So Dickens is too challenging for today’s children? Not for these ones

There was one voice missing in the debate earlier this month over when children should start reading Dickens – that of the children themselves.

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
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exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn