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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?

Book Of A Lifetime: Great Expectations, By Charles Dickens

'Great Expectations' was perhaps the first "big book" I really got through at a gallop when I was about 11. Instead of being outside, practising to open the batting for Oz, I began the novel when housebound with asthma in a Sydney suburb of no distinction. I have to say that partway through the book my reading got a fillip when, breathing easier, I saw at the local picture house the magnificent film version directed by David Lean and starring John Mills and Alex Guinness.

In just 30 days, you too can write a masterpiece

Or maybe not. As writers prepare for National Novel Writing Month, Andrew Johnson looks at classics that were knocked out in a few weeks

Last Night in Twisted River, By John Irving

It would seem that publishing novels for five decades and winning a National Book Award (for The World According to Garp) isn't as confidence-boosting as one might imagine. How else to explain the curious Author's Note at the end of John Irving's latest door-stopper of a novel?

Rochester's literary past reveals a great deal about the city

Charles Dickens, champion of the working man and the overburdened woman, would be delighted with the offer each day from 7am to 9am outside the Golden Lion pub: tea or coffee for 49p. I’ll have two, thanks, and keep the change: a boost of caffeine is just what you need to make the most of the city that has been thriving for two millennia – and, within the past year, has moved even closer to London and the rest of the country.

Leading article: Puppet masters

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London has acquired an extensive Punch & Judy archive made up of scores of artworks, photographs and books. In some ways the puppet show, with its traditional costumes, the grotesque visages of the characters and the lack of hi-tech tricks, looks like very old-fashioned entertainment. Avatar it is not. But on the other hand the show's bold approach to themes such as domestic violence, child neglect and disrespect for the law might be said to give it a strikingly contemporary feel.

A guide to A-road Britain: A149

Pouring rain one minute, vast blue skies the next, that's normal for Norfolk. Margareta Pagano travels from Great Yarmouth to King's Lynn, passing some of her favourite places in the world

Famous wills: They couldn't take it with them...

The last wishes of some of history's most eminent figures have been released. Kevin Rawlinson surveys their legacies

Bleak House, New Vic Theatre, Staffordshire

Before Bleak House begins, Inspector Bucket appears in the foyer of the New Vic Theatre inviting the public to turn detective and help him solve a murder mystery. We get our bearings with the help of an enlarged map on which are perched tiny, illuminated models, from stately home to slum, of buildings featured in Dickens's novel. Backstage we visit the scene of the crime via glimpses of Krook's rag-and-bottle shop, a glassy-eyed Lady Dedlock staring back at us through a rain-streaked window, Miss Flite's bird-filled garret, and the blood-spattered desk at which Tulkinghorn died. Scrutinising each small scenario, poring over every scrap of spidery writing, hanging on to snippets of information supplied by throaty-voiced actors, the audience clearly enjoyed dipping its collective toe into this piece of immersive theatre.

Dickensian London – alive and well in Kent

A Slice of Britain: Dedicated fans of the great Victorian novelist get into bustles and bonnets for their annual parade in Broadstairs

Album: Laurie Anderson Homeland (Nonesuch)

As the title suggests, Homeland sees Laurie Anderson returning to the familiar territory of her opus magnum United States I-IV, with a series of ruminations and observations upon her native land, in which unashamed intellectualism – references to Kierkegaard, Thomas Paine, etc – is balanced by her dry wit and ironic delivery.

Tim Sturtridge: What The Dickens - England’s great expectations

In the first instalment of this updated Dickens classic our hero starts out as the general dogsbody to a Sunday League outfit.

First-edition books may fetch £15m

A collection of first-edition books, described as the greatest of its kind, is estimated to sell for between £8m and £15m at auction later this year.

DJ Taylor: Back to the 1930s – but this time we're not quite pulling together

In 1931, people queued up to pay their taxes and help cut the spiralling national deficit. These days, we're more likely to worry about our own wellbeing than the country's

Why Dickens was not the family man history would have us believe

A new film exposes the married father-of-10's 13-year affair with a young actress – and his possible love child, writes Arifa Akbar
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Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London