Live updates


Teaching group slams English syllabus 'out of the 1940s'

An organisation representing English teachers has launched a scathing attack on the new GCSE curriculum, claiming it will put teenagers off studying literature.

The new syllabus will not include several classic American works, including John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, reportedly at the insistence of the Education Secretary, Michael Gove.

The chair of the National Association for the Teaching of English, Bethan Marshall, told the Sunday Times: “It’s a syllabus out of the 1940s and rumour has it Michael Gove, who read literature, designed it himself. Schools will be incredibly depressed when they see it."

She argued that studying 19th century British works would deter students from continuing with the subject, saying: "Kids will be put off doing A-level literature by this. Many teenagers will think that being made to read Dickens aged 16 is just tedious. This will just grind children down.”

American classics taken off GCSE curriculum

Classic novels by American authors such as John Steinbeck and Harper Lee are to be taken off the GCSE English curriculum after Education Secretary Michael Gove reportedly insisted teenagers should study more works by British authors.

Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird and the Arthur Miller play The Crucible are among the books that have been taken off the list.

John Steinbeck, one of the author's whose work has been taken off the GCSE curriculum.

The new curriculum will be unveiled this week and the Sunday Times (£) reports that three quarters of the books will be by Britons, with the majority written before the 20th century.

“[Steinbeck's] Of Mice and Men, which Michael Gove really dislikes, will not be included. It was studied by 90% of teenagers taking English literature GCSE in the past,” exam board OCR said.

However they also pointed out that between 70-80% of the work studied on the current curriculum are by British authors.

American crime writer Elmore Leonard dies aged 87

American crime writer Elmore Leonard, author of Get Shorty and Out of Sight, has died aged 87, his official website said.

Elmore Leonard with the Crime Writers Association Cartier Diamond Dagger award in 2006. Credit: Steve Parsons/PA Archive

Leonard, who suffered a stroke last month, died at 7.15am (12.15pm BST) "surrounded by his loving family" at his Detroit home.

Leonard wrote 45 novels, many of which were adapted into Hollywood films including Be Cool, starring John Travolta and Killshot, which Diane Lane and Mickey Rourke appeared in.

Sharpe had success with 16 books including Wilt series

The novelist Tom Sharpe, who died aged 85, had major success with 16 books including his satirical farces Blott on the Landscape and the Wilt series.

Tom Sharpe wrote the Wilt series. Credit: Random House

The author won huge acclaim for his books with The Times calling him "the funniest novelist writing today", although he did not publish his first, Riotous Assembly, until he was 43 in 1971.

Within a few years he had published his best known works Porterhouse Blue, Wilt and Blott On The Landscape.


Porterhouse Blue novelist Tom Sharpe dies aged 85

British author Tom Sharpe, who wrote the novel Porterhouse Blue, has died aged 85, according to AFP.

Tom Sharpe wrote Porterhouse Blue. Credit: Random House

Sharpe died in the north eastern Spanish coastal town of Llafranc, the news agency reported.

David Jason starred in a six-part television series of Blott on the Landscape - which was adapted from the author's 1975 novel.

Husband of record-smashing erotic writer bags own book deal

Niall Leonard, whose wife EL James wrote the erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey, has landed his own major book deal - with a manuscript he wrote in just a month.

The thriller, Crusher, is due to be published later this year and is aimed at young adults.

Niall Leonard, husband of erotic writer EL James, to publish own book Credit: PA/Random House Group

Niall Leonard, a TV screenwriter responsible for programmes like Monarch of the Glen and Hornblower, was challenged to write the book by his wife. Executives at her publishing house were so impressed, they signed him up to a three book deal.

Fifty Shades of Grey, his wife's debut novel, set a UK record last week by selling more than 200,000 copies in seven days.