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Maggie Smith

Edinburgh comedy review: Andrew Maxwell's Banana Kingdom - Alex

A year before the referendum,  Andrew Maxwell deserves credit for doing material about Scottish independence, not least because he’s a London-based Irishman whose jokes could easily divide the room. But such is his skill, charm and Banana Kingdom’s faultless construction that he takes the crowd with him.

'Blackly comic' Rowling book far from Harry

JK Rowling was not joking when she said her next book would be "very different" to the magical world of Harry Potter. Yesterday it emerged her first novel aimed at adults would follow parish council elections in an English market town. The celebrated British author's first book in five years will be called The Casual Vacancy, and will be a "blackly comic" tale of an idyllic English town at war itself, the publishers revealed.

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie/ The Girls of Slender Means, Assembly

Muriel Spark wrote of her most enduring creation, Miss Jean Brodie, that she was "an Edinburgh festival all on her own": vibrant, bursting with culture and a touch overwhelming, you might infer. This year, it is Spark herself who is a festival all on her own with two large-scale theatre adaptations of her novels and a book festival event dedicated to a new doorstop biography of the Edinburgh author by Martin Stannard.