Penguin Michael Joseph is to publish Life Lessons, a book Captain Sir Tom Moore finished writing at the end of last year.
The book, which shares Captain Tom's guiding principles for life, will be published in hardback on 2nd April 2021. Its epilogue has been released by his family this week, as they announce plans for his funeral.
Captain Tom became a national hero last year after raising more than £32m for the NHS by walking laps of his garden. He went on to publish a memoir and children's book with Penguin Random House. Earlier this month, he passed away after contracting coronavirus and pneumonia.
Rowland White, publishing director at Penguin Michael Joseph, said: “Captain Tom took 100 years to write his first book. His next followed rather more quickly. Tom finished writing Life Lessons in December 2020, having devoted the same unflagging commitment to it as he had to his fundraising. Delivered the week before Christmas, the completion of Life Lessons capped a truly extraordinary year. Through the distress and tragedy of a global pandemic, this modest old soldier with a kind word for everyone became an unlikely but worthy talisman for the whole country.
“With his passing, the publication of Life Lessons – a book in which he shares the guiding principles he lived by — has taken on a poignancy that Tom had never intended. And yet it’s clear from his words released from the epilogue of this book today, that had he no fear of the end. If Tom’s final year was a gift that helped see us through difficult days, Life Lessons has the valedictory feel of a final farewell– a distillation of the wit, warmth and wisdom that made him so special.”
In the epilogue, the Second World War veteran writes: “None of us know when our time will come, but knowing that it will likely be sooner rather than later does focus the mind and makes every day precious. People say we should live each day as if it’s our last, but we can’t be happy all the time. That would be bad for us. Life isn’t perfect and we have to feel sorrow sometimes to know what happiness is. But we can at least choose to find some joy in each and every day.
“My advice would be not to assume that you’ll live as long as me and don’t put anything really important off, because tomorrow could be your last. Forgiveness is a good place to start because it isn’t healthy to keep carrying bitterness in your heart. Nobody is perfect. Accept that and move on. There’s not enough time in this life to waste it on anger and hatred.”
At the age of 100, he also addressed the fact he could die soon and the arrangements he wanted for his funeral, writing: “It’s odd and rather touching to think that people might weep over my passing – strangers I’ve never even met. If I can, I’d like to watch my own funeral from a distance. That would be quite the joke as I looked down and chuckled at everyone making a lot of fuss over me.
“Even though I have a space reserved in the village churchyard, I want to be cremated and my ashes taken back to Yorkshire to be with my parents and grandparents in the Moore family plot. I wouldn’t mind having a little white headstone somewhere to mark my existence, a bit like the ones they have in military cemeteries. Nothing too fancy.
“Several people have asked me what my epitaph might be, so I’ve given that a bit of thought too. When I was younger, I enjoyed listening to 'The Goon Show' on the wireless, and one of the comedians who always made me laugh the hardest was Spike Milligan. Like me, he fought in the Second World War, but was wounded in Italy. When he died at the age of 83, he wrote his own epitaph, which was engraved in Gaelic on his headstone. It reads: ‘I told you I was ill.’
“This always made me laugh, so I think I’d ask for the simple inscription of my name, the dates of my earthly span, and the words: ‘I told you I was old.’
“That’ll do me. And hopefully, some day it will make someone smile.”
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