Author’s new book features villain called Chris Grayling

The protest against Chris Grayling's ban on prisoners being sent books has gone in an unusual new direction, after a bestselling author announced she would name the villain of her new novel after the justice secretary.

Kathy Lette told the New York Times that her new novel, Courting Trouble, would feature "a corrupt lawyer named Chris Grayling who ends up in a prison where he is deprived of reading matter and goes insane".

She added: "For Britain to be punishing people by starving them of literature is cruel and unusual punishment.

"We are going to impale him on the end of our pens. Poetic justice is true justice."

The announcement comes after Margaret Drabble told the Times she had "ample time" to add a character called Chris Grayling to her half-finished novel Death by Fire.

"He could die in the fire," she added.

Lette's insertion of the Grayling character comes as protestors from the Howard League and English PEN continue to lobby Downing Street and the Ministry of Justice for a change in the law.

Tough new rules for prisons introduced at the end of last year barred prisoners from receiving any packages in the mail, including books and other essentials.

"Grayling says books are a privilege whereas I think of them as a staple, like bread and water," Lette told the Evening Standard.

"As I'm of [Australian] convict stock, and as I left school at 16, this ban on books for prisoners really irks me. Inmates should be rewarded for reading. I mean, what a captive audience."

A huge coalition of authors are backing the calls for reform of the rules, including Ian McEwan, Salman Rushdie, Philip Pullman, Mark Haddon and Julian Barnes.