Penguin strikes deal to publish Captain Tom Moore

Penguin strikes deal to publish Captain Tom Moore

Captain Tom Moore, the centenarian who completed 100 laps around his garden in aid of NHS Charities, is publishing his memoirs with Michael Joseph and a children's book with Puffin, having struck a deal with Penguin Random House via Bev James at Bev James Management.

The deal for world rights in both books followed a number of pitches from competing publishers, with three adult publishing houses vying to publish Captain Tom's memoirs from Penguin Random House's stables alone.

Penguin Random House revealed Captain Tom's autobiography, Tomorrow Will Be a Good Day, will "tell of his distinguished and dramatic life", including "how his spirit was forged on the battlefields of Burma, how he fearlessly raced motorbikes competitively and how he took off for the Himalayas in his nineties, simply because he’d never been". Publishing in hardback, e-book and audio on 17th September 2020, it will cover his best known achievement, too – raising £32m for NHS Charities by his 100th birthday by walking 100 lengths of his garden, in the process "inspiring an entire nation, in the midst of lockdown, to look to tomorrow and never give up".

His children’s picture book, out on 1st October 2020, will meanwhile "reflect the themes of adventure, helping people and never giving up, capturing Captain Tom’s story for the younger generation". It is as yet untitled; further details about the picture book, including illustrator/s, will be revealed in due course, the publisher said.

Although PRH declined to comment on the rumoured £1.5m advance, reported by The Sun, both books are being published "in support of" the newly created Captain Tom Foundation, which, in broad terms, aims to inspire hope wherever it is most needed.

Rowland White, publishing director at Michael Joseph, will be publishing Captain Tom's memoirs. Commenting, he said it had been "very intense" in the run-up to the deal being done, facing stiff competition from PRH's own ranks from Cornerstone and Transworld. Given his own background in writing military history, he said he was hugely excited to be publishing Captain Tom. 

"Like millions of others in this country, and indeed around the world, I watched Captain Tom’s remarkable achievement raising a staggering sum of money for NHS Charities," said White. "At a time when the country was looking for hope and reassurance, Captain Tom stepped forward and made us believe that tomorrow would be a good day. It is a privilege and an honour to be his publisher and to share his remarkable story."

Speaking with The Bookseller, he said further: "One of the stories I heard and I loved is that, around the time we were starting to all argue about Brexit, Captain Tom took himself off to the Himalayas – in his 90s - simply because he’d never been. He went by himself. He hired a plane while he was out there so he could fly over the top of Everest, and then came home again. It’s a heartwarming indication of the kind of man he is, of this curiosity and love of life that has obviously fuelled all 100 years he has so far been around."

Remarking on Captain Tom's appearance on TV's "Blankety Blank" in the 1980s, and his motorcycle adventuring, he continued: "He's a man with an appetite for life but also evidently a man with enormous humanity and compassion and those things just come off him in waves. And because it's been so real and organic, you can't contrive something like this, people recognise something in him genuine and authentic.

"There were a lot of conversations about what the response in publishing would be to Covid-19, what kinds of books would we see, what books would rise to the surface as a result, whether we would see memoirs from the NHS frontline or all want the literary equivalent of chicken soup for the soul. It seems to me that actually Captain Tom's book is the perfect response from the book world to the horrible situation we're all living through. This is the book we all need from the man who proved to be the hero we were all looking for."

Francesca Dow, managing director, Penguin Random House Children’s, said Puffin was "thrilled and honoured to be working with Captain Tom to tell his and his family’s story in picture-book form".

"One of the most extraordinary things that Captain Tom has managed to achieve at this unique and difficult time is to bring people together with a common aim: to help others," said Dow. "We are all part of Captain Tom’s story and I couldn’t be prouder to be publishing a picture book with him. The book captures his spirit: like his life, it will be full of adventure, the power of helping people and the importance of never giving up.

"And Captain Tom’s book resonates with what we at Puffin, especially in this our 80th year, hope to achieve with every book we publish: to enable readers of all ages to see themselves in the book, and to share the message that we are stronger, and can achieve more, when we work together.

"In these extraordinary times, working with my colleagues across Penguin Random House to be part of this significant publishing moment has been exhilarating and grounding. We’ve leveraged each other’s strengths to bring the legacy of the Captain Tom Foundation – to help people to help others, across generations – to readers of all ages."

Reflecting Captain Tom Moore’s military values, a strong sense of family as well as helping the community, Penguin has emphasised its own heritage is steeped in public service. During the Second World War, Penguin established the Forces Book Club, supplying active servicemen and women with regular selections of paperbacks to provide entertainment and education, and Puffin, its children’s publisher, was born out of the war, with a specific ambition to provide accessible literature to children, particularly evacuees, during the war.