HarperCollins has acquired world all language rights for the autobiography of Rosemary Smith, the female motorsport pioneer who won some of the most iconic rallies in the world.
The company’s Irish publishing director, Eoin McHugh, bought world rights to Driven from agent Faith O’Grady of the Lisa Richards Agency with publication slated for September. It is McHugh’s first deal since the former Transworld Ireland publisher’s took a newly created role in HarperCollins, as part of a doubling of the Irish team, in December.
Described as "a female pioneer in a notoriously male-dominated sport", Smith has spent more than 60 years on the motor racing circuit, competing at the highest level in the Monte Carlo Rally, in races from London to Sydney, London to Mexico, and the famous Safari rally in East Africa.
A HarperCollins spokesperson revealed it is the first time "she reveals the inside story of her amazing life on and off the track".
"She learned to drive at 11, left school at 15, became a dress designer and model and then changed careers to become a rally driver," the spokesperson said. "She recalls encounters with celebrities such as Ginger Rogers, Bob Hope, Adam Faith and Oliver Reed, and her victory as the first and only woman to win the famous Tulip Rally when she received a huge bouquet from Hollywood stars Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton."
However the memoir "is not all fast cars and marathon rallies". According to the publisher, Smith writes with honesty about her early life, about a disastrous marriage, miscarriages and money troubles – and how she overcame it all.
"Rosemary’s trailblazing passion and determination, and her defiance of gender and age stereotyping, make for a fascinating, timely and truly inspirational story," the publisher said.
McHugh said: "Rosemary is an iconic sportswoman, a trailblazer in the world of motorsports with a great personality and an amazing story. With straight-up honesty and humour her book reveals the determination and courage which brought her to the top of her sport. It’s an inspirational read and a book we’re proud to publish."
"People have been asking me for years to tell my story and I’m very happy to have found a home for it with HarperCollins," Smith said. "I can’t wait until it is out in the world."