Weidenfeld & Nicolson is to publish the memoir of Charlie Gilmour, the son of Pink Floyd's David Gilmour.
First reported in The Bookseller issue on 29th September, Kirsty Dunseath, publisher at Weidenfeld & Nicolson has bought at auction UK & Commonwealth Rights (excluding Canada with Europe Exclusive) from Natasha Fairweather at Rogers, Coleridge & White for Gilmour’s debut book Benzene Dreams to be published in late 2019.
German rights have since been sold after a heated 8-way auction to Julia Suchorski and Marcus Gaertner at Rowohlt, and Dutch rights were auctioned to Renate Liesker at Ambo Anthos. There are sales currently underway elsewhere in Europe, Canada and the US, said the publisher.
One spring day a baby magpie fell out of its nest in a Bermondsey junkyard and into Charlie Gilmour’s life. Starved and terrified the bird screamed for food every twenty minutes, devouring minced meat, worms, carrot tops and attention with a hunger which seemed insatiable. By the time the fledgling had developed the shiny black feathers with an oily purple-green sheen which suggested the name Benzene, Charlie and the bird had forged an unbreakable bond.
Benzene Dreams is the story of this love affair between man and bird. It is also about freedom and captivity; adoption and parenthood; birth and death. Charlie weaves his own story into Benzene’s year of growing, learning to fly, moulting and nesting.
Abandoned as a baby by his biological father, Heathcote Williams, Charlie was adopted by his mother’s new husband David Gilmour of Pink Floyd – and considered him his true father. A failed attempt at a reunion with Heathcote contributed to a very public breakdown and Charlie was prosecuted for his part in the violent student protests of 2010, being sentenced to 16 months in Wandsworth prison (though he only served four). As he got to know Heathcote as he was dying, Charlie discovered that birds – and writing – run deep in his family’s blood. Exploring the extent to which we are doomed to repeat the sins of our fathers, Benzene Dreams is ultimately about the triumph of nurture over nature.
Gilmour was born in 1989 and raised in London and Sussex. He read history at Cambridge University, with a brief interlude in 2011 at Her Majesty’s Prison Wandsworth. He contributes a fortnightly column about death to Vice.com, called "Everyone You Love Will Die", and writes for a number of newspapers and magazines on a broad array of subjects. He has worked as a model for the Tomorrow is Another Day Agency and recently made his acting debut as a vegan terrorist in Simon Amstell’s acclaimed mocumentary Carnage. He lives in South London with his wife, Janina, and Benzene.
Dunseath said: "We were completely bowled over by Charlie Gilmour’s proposal. The writing is so sensitive, thoughtful and thought-provoking, and his prose style is utterly beautiful. We were also charmed by Benzene, and the way his story gives light and shade to Charlie’s exploration of love, grief and friendship."
Gilmour said: "I am so looking forward to working with Weidenfeld & Nicolson on Benzene Dreams. Their enthusiastic response has in itself been a dream come true. I could not hope for a better publishing house to call home."
Benzene Dreams will be published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson in hardback and e-book in late 2019.