Unbound is releasing a new novel by Andy Hamilton printed in a facsimile of the comedian's own handwriting, in what is being billed as "a modern publishing first".
Longhand, a 320-page novel, will be released on 3rd September. It has been praised by Stephen Fry as "uniquely brilliant" and "a love letter to humanity" by Neil Gaiman.
John Mitchinson, Unbound’s publisher, said: “Andy has wanted to publish a handwritten novel for a long time but never quite found the time – or the publisher mad enough — to do it. We’re pretty sure it’s a first. Facsimiles of classic manuscripts have been printed in small collectors’ editions before, but as far as we know this is the first time a full-length, brand new handwritten novel has been published and distributed to the whole book trade.”
The book tells the story of Malcom Galbraith, a large clumsy Scotsman living in Inverness. Forced by circumstance beyond his control to abandon the woman he loves, he decides to tell his whole life story in a long farewell letter. The contents of that letter form the text of the book, described as “a story of mythic proportions that combines tragedy, comedy, mystery, a touch of leprosy, several murders, a massacre, a ritual sacrifice, an insane tyrant, two great romances, a landslide, a fire, and a talking fish”.
Mitchinson said the comic wrote out at least three drafts of the book in a long, laborious process. He explained: “With the final draft we decided — because the book is, essentially, a long farewell note left on a kitchen table — that various splotches and crossings out were admissible as human error – a part of the story. Luckily, he writes in the most beautiful italic hand, so legibility wasn’t a problem — although he did wear out 43 Berol pens.”
Hamilton, a comedy panel show veteran and co-creator of “Drop the Dead Donkey” and “Outnumbered”, said: “The form of it reminds us how important handwritten communication is in an age of digital disposability – writing someone a letter somehow carries more of ourselves within it – it’s taken actual physical effort and thought to make it. Everyone likes getting a handwritten letter – we read them, re-read and treasure them as human artefacts. Emails just get dumped in an electronic dustbin.”