Death of Thatcher sparks publishing flurry

A flurry of publishing activity has been prompted by the death of former prime minister Margaret Thatcher yesterday (8th), with two biographies being rushed out this month, plus multiple reprints of existing works.

Toby Bourne, group buying and marketing director at Bertrams wholesaler, said there had "of course been a surge in demand" for Thatcher titles, with his team “working with publishers to manage stock." 

The authorised biography of Margaret Thatcher will be published "immediately following her funeral" next week by Penguin imprint Allen Lane, while a further biography from Transworld will be out later this month. 
Allen Lane's Margaret Thatcher: The Authorised Biography, Volume One: Not for Turning by Charles Moore was commissioned in 1997 on the understanding that it would not be published during Thatcher's lifetime.
Moore was given full access to Thatcher’s private papers and interviewed her extensively, as well as speaking to her family and those who worked with her. Permission was also given to civil servants to speak to Moore about Thatcher, and he was given early access to government papers held back under the 30-year rule. Thatcher did not read the manuscript before her death.

Publishing director Stuart Proffitt said: “Charles Moore’s biography of Margaret Thatcher immediately supercedes all earlier books written about her. Having worked closely with Lady Thatcher on both volumes of her autobiography, and read all the other main books about her, I was astonished at how much Moore says which has never been public before. At the moment when she becomes a historical figure, this book also makes her into a three-dimensional one for the first time. It gives unparalleled insight into her early life and formation, especially through her extensive correspondence with her sister, which Moore is the first author to draw on.”

He added: “It recreates brilliantly the atmosphere of British politics as she was making her way, and takes her up to what was arguably the zenith of her power, victory in the Falklands. Moore is clearly an admirer of his subject, but he does not shy away from criticising her or identifying weaknesses and mistakes where he feels it is justified. It is, by any standards, an exceptionally impressive book and to be publishing it at this moment is a rare privilege.”

The volume finishes at a dinner held in Downing Street in November 1982 to mark the end of the Falklands conflict. Moore is currently completing the second and final volume, Herself Alone.

The first book will cost £30 in hardback and £18 in e-book.

Meanwhile Transworld is to publish a further biography, Not For Turning: The Life of Margaret Thatcher, written by Robin Harris, who was Thatcher's speechwriter for many years, and the draftsman of two volumes of her autobiography. It will be released on 25th April, priced £20.

Publisher Doug Young acquired world English language rights in the title from Eddie Bell at Bell Lomax Moreton before Thatcher's death, though the title will be fully up to date. Harris continued to see Thatcher regularly as a friend until her death.

The former prime minister wrote to Harris when the book was first conceived, and said: "I can think of no one better placed than you to tackle the subject . . . You also know, better than anyone else, what I wanted our reforms to achieve for the people of Britain."

The book will tell of Thatcher's early life and childhood, to her first days in Parliament and her time as prime minister, through the "Winter of Discontent", the miners' strike and the Falklands War, as well as her life at Number 10 and her exit from power.

HarperCollins imprint HarperPress will this week publish Margaret Thatcher’s autobiography as a single volume for the first time. The book, which will be titled Margaret Thatcher—The Autobiography, will be an abridged version of her previous volumes of memoirs, The Downing Street Years and The Path to Power.

A spokesperson for the publisher said the posthumous publication was “in accordance with [Thatcher's] wishes”, and that the book: “tells the story of her remarkable life in her own words, beginning with her birth in Grantham and concluding with the dramatic departure from office in 1990".

The book will be available as a hardback, trade paperback, and an e-book, the first time the memoirs have been available in a digital format. HarperPress is aiming to publish the digital edition today (9th) with the print to follow this week. It will also be available as an audiobook, read by Thatcher.

Martin Redfern, editorial director of HarperPress, said: “Thatcher first published her account of life in Downing Street in 1993, and it was a major international publishing event. Then in 1995 we published her account of her life growing up and going into politics. For the autobiography, we have condensed the memoirs down to some of the most fascinating times, and arranged it chronologically. It is a long time since they first appeared, and it was her wish that this book should come out following her death, that it would be a testament to her.

“What really comes through is her voice—it is a short, sharp self-portrait, and she is honest about every detail. You see the real woman. This will be a very important book for us, and I am pleased it is finally available digitally for the first time.”

Meanwhile Vintage editor Frances Jessop said reprints of John Campbell’s biography The Iron Lady were being ordered following yesterday’s news, while Tindal Street Press said it was moving publication of the paperback of novel How I Killed Margaret Thatcher by Anthony Cartwright forward.

Thatcher has inspired several titles from publishers this year, with Bloomsbury Continuum set to release Jonathan Aitken’s Margaret Thatcher: Power and Personality in October. Bloomsbury is bringing forward publication of Damian Barr’s memoir, Maggie and Me, which describes his experience growing up in a workin-class Scottish town during the Thatcher years and coming to terms with his sexuality. The hardback was due to be released on 9th May, but will now be published on 25th April. A tabloid serialisation is planned for this weekend, while the author will be undergoing a major publicity tour.

Political publisher Biteback has released several Thatcher-related titles this year, including Gillian Shephard’s The Real Iron Lady: Working with Margaret Thatcher.

A spokesperson for Biteback said: “Thatcher has been a central figure for our publishing, and features in so many of our books. Even today (8th), we published Robin Renwick’s A Journey With Margaret Thatcher, which has been getting lots of publicity.”