In a literary genre populated by many anodyne titles, Morrissey’s autobiography has caused a stir even before anyone gets their hands on a copy. In fact it’s unclear when anyone will do that, after the singer and renowned controversialist claimed an 11th-hour split with his publisher had derailed next week’s publication – despite no evidence the book was close to being released.
Senior publishers were left sceptical after a statement appeared on a website endorsed by the former Smiths songwriter, with one calling it a “wind up, perhaps even orchestrated by the man himself”, while another dubbed it a “hoax”. The semi-official Morrissey fansite True To You said although the much-anticipated autobiography was “set to be available throughout the UK on 16 September, a last-minute content disagreement between Penguin Books and Morrissey has caused the venture to collapse”.
The post was accompanied by what purported to be an image of the front cover, titled simply Autobiography.
The book is expected to tell the inside story of The Smiths, the band that established Morrissey’s fame with songs including “Girlfriend In A Coma” and “Panic”.
The website added that “no review copies were printed and Morrissey is now in search of a new publisher”. No indications were given of the content the two sides clashed over, however, while Penguin refused to comment – even on the existence of a deal for the book itself.
Lee Brackstone, creative director of Faber, said it was the “first I’d heard” about next week’s supposed publication. “I can’t see how they could turn the book around that quickly and nobody seems to know anything about it. It seems like mischief to me.”
Mr Brackstone had written an open letter to Morrissey in 2010 to woo him to the publisher, though “only half seriously” and continued in a similar tone yesterday. “I’ve grown out of it. All I can say is: that joke isn’t funny any more.”
He added: “It will be a wonderful book and I love him – he’s a hero to so many people and remains a vital influence in this moribund culture he constantly challenges. But working with him? I’m not sure I’ve the strength and fortitude much as I’d love to.”
One industry insider said: “There is simply no evidence of this book in existence. It would be on the radar of bookshops, certainly wholesalers. How else would it get sold? Out of the boot of his car?”
Morrissey’s autobiography was not listed as due for publication on the Nielsen Index, nor was it given an International Standard Book Number (ISBN) code which it would have been had it been coming out next week, according to the industry insider.