Just days after her death, battle begins over Liz Taylor memoirs

Elizabeth Taylor lived her life with vigour: jewels, men, and legal action. Following her death on Wednesday, book projects have been brought forward to take advantage of a renewed interest in her career – and the opportunity to publish revelations without being sued.

British publishers Mainstream, JR Books, Macmillan and Faber are all prioritising biographies about Taylor to be published in the coming weeks. Mainstream's book, Elizabeth Taylor: The Lady, The Lover, The Legend: 1932-2011 by Hollywood biographer David Bret, is being released "imminently" with Mainstream's managing director Bill Campbell claiming the author feared legal reprisals from Taylor because of its contents.

The other three releases are either paperbacks or reprints, whose release dates have also been shifted forward. "We are the only new book," said Mr Campbell. "We have been holding it back because it is controversial in parts. Current libel laws would have prevented it. I would call it as much a tribute as it is revelatory."

Bret's book claims Taylor "was the most controversial Hollywood icon since Mae West" and is known to contain revelations about the glamorous grande dame's mother, who it is alleged had lesbian affairs and romances with directors to win her daughter parts. There are also allegations surrounding Taylor's ex-husband Richard Burton's "bisexuality" and the millions the former actress blew on houses, diamonds and yachts.

Mr Campbell said the book would have a "big print run", adding: "It is fairly opinionated. David had known her for some years and had been in regular contact. She had expressed admiration for his work."

Taylor's litigiousness was as protracted as her celebrity career. In 1960, she and her fourth husband Eddie Fisher sued seven US fanzines for £2.5m, alleging "malicious libel". In 1990, the actress sued The National Enquirer for claiming she had brought alcohol into a hospital room when she was suffering from one of her many illnesses.

The case was settled out of court for an undisclosed sum. Though the subject of numerous biographies throughout her life, Taylor's aversion to intrusion meant she never wrote a comprehensive autobiography.

Now, JR Books is bringing forward the paperback release of its 2010 title Furious Love: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and the Marriage of the Century. Pan Macmillan is reprinting 25,000 copies of its 2007 biography, Elizabeth. Faber has brought forward by a year the paperback release of William J Mann's How to be a Movie Star: Elizabeth Taylor in Hollywood, originally scheduled for July 2012. "She didn't co-operate with our book, I don't think she liked co-operating with them," said Faber editor Walter Donohue. "William spoke to people around her, people who had worked with her or her parents. There had been so much written about her private life, but ours was not about that."

Last year there was speculation that JR Books' title was being adapted into a film with Angelina Jolie playing the lead role and Mike Nichols directing – although Nichols' agent Leslee Dart yesterday dismissed it as "pure nonsense".

"David Bret told a colleague of mine a funny story about being on a radio station in Chicago when Elizabeth Taylor herself called in to say that 'David Bret may be a shit but he's a loveable shit'," added a Mainstream spokesperson. "David was very fond of her, but was well aware that she would have tried to stop the book being published so preferred to wait."

A life in biographies

For decades, books about Elizabeth Taylor's life reflected her public persona's surface sparkle – and lacked the underlying grit. Her first memoir, 1946's Nibbles and Me, discussed her "adventures with her pet chipmunk", while Elizabeth Taylor, her second autobiography that was published in 1964, was widely derided as bland and unrevelatory.

But the first unauthorised work about the actress, by Kitty Kelley in 1981, was mainly rumour, and led to Taylor branding Kelley "a liar" and the pair becoming lifelong enemies.

All of these efforts pale in comparison with 1988's Elizabeth Takes Off: On Weight Gain, Weight Loss, Self-Image and Self-Esteem. The book was ghostwritten, but netted her a reported $750,000 advance.

Arts and Entertainment
Stewart Lee (Gavin Evans)


Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Far Right and Proud: Reggies Yates' Extreme Russia

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West was mobbed in Armenia after jumping into a lake

Arts and Entertainment
The show suffers from its own appeal, being so good as to create an appetite in its viewers that is difficult to sate in a ten episode series

Game of Thrones reviewFirst look at season five contains some spoilers
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey on the Red Carpet for 2015's Olivier Awards

Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awards

Arts and Entertainment
Proving his metal: Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner in the BBC series) epitomises the risk-taking spirit of 18th-century mine owners

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne is reportedly favourite to play Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars in dystopian action thriller Mad Max: Fury Road

Arts and Entertainment
Josh, 22, made his first million from the game MinoMonsters

Grace Dent

Channel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
Disgraced Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson
Arts and Entertainment
Game face: Zoë Kravitz, Bruce Greenwood and Ethan Hawke in ‘Good Kill’

film review

Arts and Entertainment
Living like there’s no tomorrow: Jon Hamm as Don Draper in the final season of ‘Mad Men’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
Yaphett Kotto with Julius W Harris and Jane Seymour in 1973 Bond movie Live and Let Die

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
    Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

    UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

    Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
    John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

    ‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

    Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
    Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

    Let the propaganda wars begin - again

    'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

    Japan's incredible long-distance runners

    Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
    Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

    Tom Drury: The quiet American

    His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
    Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

    Beige to the future

    Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

    Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

    More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
    Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

    Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

    The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own