Books: Cover Stories

WITH SIR Edward Heath on the road until Christmas, signing everything that moves, I gather that two other Tory scribblers are now fully occupied on their memoirs. John Major, like Lady Thatcher, is working with HarperCollins and will publish next autumn. He claims to have written 80,000 words - in longhand, as befits the PM of warm beer and spinsters cycling to church. Michael Heseltine (like Heath, with Hodder) is 59,000 words in and, as befits a man with monogrammed gates, he is dictating his thoughts. Old Oxford chum Anthony Howard will make sense of his ramblings.

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SINCE STUART Proffitt stomped out of HarperCollins over the Chris Patten affair and fetched up at Penguin, everyone has been anxiously awaiting his first acquisitions. (The only project known to be on his desk is Charles Moore's biography of the blessed Margaret, but that's not due to be published until she has been well and truly kicked upstairs.) This week brought word that he has acquired the pensees of George Walden, the former Conservative member for Buckingham and a former chairman of the Booker judges. His published canon includes a book on ethics and foreign policy and another on education.

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ALAN CLARK, the member for Kensington and Chelsea who (lust aside) usually has more time for animals than people, is turning out in a good cause next Tuesday. He will launch Voices, a double cassette of readings by local celebrities in aid of the Kensington & Chelsea Talking Newspaper, celebrating its 10th anniversary. Voices includes John Cleese reading from G K Chesterton, Diana Rigg from Elizabeth Jane Howard, P D James from her own work, and Hugh Whitemore from Paddington. Everyone has given their talents for free and Lord Puttnam describes the anthology (Polygram OutLoud, pounds 7.99) as having "a cast in a million".

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LOOK OUT soon for the British debut of Quist books for children. Launched in the US by the leather-clad Harlin Quist, who arrived in New York 50 years ago with $20 and two suitcases, his picture books have won numerous awards and are said to have revolutionised children's publishing. Inaugural titles here include Bus 24 and The Geranium on the Windowsill Just Died.

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GOOD NEWS amid the bad for Richard Cohen. The eponymous independent admitted defeat last week, having lost pounds 500,000 of his own money. But Metro Books, another independent run by ex-Faberite Susanne McDadd, is taking on both Cohen and his list, including Al Alvarez's autobiography Where Did It All Go Right? Interesting question.

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