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OpenLearn Live: 6th December 2016

Updated Tuesday, 6th December 2016

Remembering a publisher who shaped the lives of authors and readers alike; how Marie Tharp helped us understand the planet and the price of planes. Learning and research from across the day.

OpenLearn Live scoops up the best in learning and research from around the web, and shares it with you. This page will be updated across the day.

Yesterday: the turmoil in Italy, and Japanese slang for Twitter terms

See the complete collection of OpenLearn Live

Today's posts

How much does a 747 cost?

Donald Trump is rather upset this afternoon because of the rising costs of building the next Air Force One. Here's a tweet about that:

Trump later explained that he doesn't mind Boeing make lots of money, just not that much money.

Four billion for a plane is a lot of money. But 747s aren't cheap - in 2004, a freight version would have set you back $357.5 million, and you'd imagine that Air Force One would need a little bit fitting out than a plane to lug cargo from one runway to another.

There could be a cheaper option, though. Earlier this year, the Mirror was reporting a "head-of state configured" second hand 747 was being sold for an estimated $26million.

Explore airplane design & engineering

Gary Slapper

We're sorry to report the death of Gary Slapper, a big figure on campus and in the worlds of law and academia. We've collected a few of his favourite pieces together to celebrate his work.

Women editathon

The BBC is rounding off its 100 Women celebration by hosting a Wikipedia editathon:

If you’re doing research on the internet, only around 17% of notable profiles you’ll find on Wikipedia are of women. If you are a woman, you are 27 times more likely to be abused online. So is the internet sexist? And if you think it is, can you do something about it?

BBC 100 Women is hosting a 12 hour edit-a-thon on 8 December. There will be 15 events in 13 countries happening in multiple languages to grow the number of female editors and add women who deserve to be recognised.

Find out how to get involved

Dip into our 20th Century Wonderwomen profiles

What are we hatching?

Baby desert tortoise hatching Copyright free  image Icon Copyright free: US Geological Survey

OpenLearn is going to be offline tomorrow for a few hours from 9am. When we come back, we'll either be wearing a whole new look, or else very embarrassed trying to pretend nothing was meant to happen.

How Marie Tharp explained the planet

The Royal Institution tells the great story of Marie Tharp. Who was Marie Tharp? A cartographer who faced down scientific sexism to change the way we think about the ocean floor:

Push the planet about with Slip, Slide, Collide

Vale 2016: Pam Royds

This week, we're starting the day with brief biographies of just some of the people who left us this year. Yesterday, we remembered Jeremy Morse. Today, we pause a moment to reflect on the career of Pam Royds.

A selection of book covers published by Pam Royds Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: Copyright Just a trio of the books published by Pam Royds during her career

Pam Royds was born Pamela Maycock on 17th August, 1924. On the same day, a protest in Mandalay demanding home rule for Burma sparked a riot in which two priests and two police officers would be killed. Pam Royds died on May 31st this year.

For decades, Pam was one of the key figures in children's publishing in the UK. As described in a Guardian obituary, Royds came to publishing as a maternity leave cover for Philippa Pearce. Pearce recommended her to Andre Deutsch, and Deutsch gave her a go. So successfully did Pam take to the role, she continued to work well into her 80s.

Amongst the works she encouraged into print were Jan Needle's My Mate Shofiq, which explored late 1970s racism through a friendship in a Lancashire town. The book created ripples in the real world - so frank was its depiction of reality, some mistook the book for a racist tract in its own right. Aneel Ahmed Films are currently working with Needle to film the title, and remember the impact:

Some schools invited Jan Needle to come and talk about it, more refused to have it on their premises. Most spectacularly, he was cancelled as the keynote speaker at a London conference on ‘realism in children’s literature’ the night before he was due to travel down there from the North of England. The headteacher said there ‘had been a democratic vote’ among the staff. Jan Needle was an unsuitable person to be listened to.

Royds worked with Michael Rosen early on his career - publishing his first collection of poetry, Mind Your Own Business, and pairing him up with illustrator Quentin Blake. She also made a suggestion which would help cement Rosen's popularity with children - that he should go and perform to his audience.  Rosen explains in an interview with Books For Keeps:

When Mind Your Own Business, his first book of poems for kids, was so successful Pam Royds, at Deutsch, suggested he might go and read them in schools. Something clicked. 'For four or five years I'd been doing revue - take-offs, loony walks, silly faces. It had never occurred to me that I could go places and treat my poems like revue scripts for kids. There were these two roads, but I hadn't seen there was only a tiny gap between them to be bridged.' Poet, teacher and performer came together: the Mike Rosen show was on the road. On a cold windy Wednesday in February, we went with it.

Social realism; poetry and performance. Picture books, too - The Lighthouse Keeper's Lunch - found a place in the list alongside Philipa Pearce's Ballad of Bubble And Squeak. Even Postman Pat owes a debt to Pam Royds - his first appearance was in a book she published in 1982, Postman Pat And The Mystery Thief.

She wasn't afraid to publish commercial work, and was protective of her authors. Gillian McClure shared her experience of coming under Pam's protection:

I accepted as normal, back in 1972, the invitation to come to her house for a bath and breakfast when I stepped off the overnight bus from Edinburgh for our very first editorial meeting at the Deutsch office in Great Russell Street.

Not having known any editor other than Pam, I took for granted the two decades that I enjoyed her kind and intelligent guidance, believing all editors to be like her – nurturing and patient; allowing an author/illustrator to make mistakes and develop.

Amongst the authors she took on was Terry Edge. He told Writewords that he managed to persuade Pam to change her mind:

I was very naive and very annoyed that my first novel was rejected 14 times (especially since I was then sending it out to one publisher at a time). Then Pam Royds, the editor at Andre Deutsch, turned it down but with a positive rejection letter. So I rang her up and argued that she should take me on. I didn't realise that you're not supposed to do that sort of thing, but she agreed to meet me and did take me on. 

A fierce advocate for those she supported, but willing to be persuaded to change her mind. For that, and for all the millions of young people who have enjoyed the books by writers she nutured, Pam Royds is worth celebrating.

Fancy your own writing career? Start with our ten tips for novelists





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