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.

News

literature

News
Dermot O'Leary attends the X Factor Wembley Arena auditions at Wembley on August 1, 2014 in London, England.

television

News
news
Arts and Entertainment
At this year's SXSW festival in Austin, Texas

Music Why this music festival is still the place to spot the next big thing

Arts and Entertainment
Russell Tovey, Myanna Buring and Julian Rhind Tutt star in Banished
tvReview: The latest episode was a smidgen less depressing... but it’s hardly a bonza beach party
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
News
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
people
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

music
Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Game of Thrones will run for ten years if HBO gets its way but showrunners have mentioned ending it after seven

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
Mans Zelmerlow will perform 'Heroes' for Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and Ross Poldark (Aiden Turner) in the BBC's remake of their 1975 original Poldark

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Craig as James Bond in Skyfall

Mexican government reportedly paying Bond producers for positive portrayal in new filmfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Disney’s flying baby elephant is set to return in live-action format
filmWith sequels, prequels and spin-offs, Disney plays it safe... and makes a pachyderm
Arts and Entertainment
Nazrin with Syf, Camden
photography
News
The QI Elves photographed at the Soho Theatre. They are part of a team of researchers who find facts for the television programme 'QI'.
people
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv0-star review: Sean O'Grady gives it his best shot anyway
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

    The saffron censorship that governs India

    Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
    Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

    How did fandom get so dark?

    Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
    The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
    The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

    Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

    Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
    Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

    Disney's mega money-making formula

    'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
    Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

    Lobster has gone mainstream

    Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
    Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

    14 best Easter decorations

    Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
    Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

    Paul Scholes column

    Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
    Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

    The future of GM

    The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
    Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

    Britain's mild winters could be numbered

    Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
    Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

    The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

    The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
    Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

    Cowslips vs honeysuckle

    It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
    Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss