Close-up: Camilla Wright

The original Gossip Girl is now an author – but hardly a respectable one
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The Independent Online

Popbitch, the nation's favourite scurrilous gossip email "service", has finally achieved immortality, as a hardback book. "I can hardly believe it," says Camilla Wright, the 37-year-old grotty-minded journalist genius who invented it. "I'm used to working online but here this is, in my hands."

Wright and her then-boyfriend sent the first Popbitch mail-out to 15 friends in 1999 ("Only a couple of months until Meg Matthews gives birth...") and it soon became a phenomenon, peddling uncannily accurate celebrity gossip (scooping Madonna's child's name eight months early) and attracting 37,000 subscribers, who will be glad to know that, even as a Random House hardback, Popbitch still eschews respectability. There are the same fruity anagrams (Rick Astley – Tickly Arse) and diverting factoids (in online forums, Geri Halliwell refers to losing one's "vaginity").

Writing it must have been fun. "We all went on an away-day to Hastings," says Wright. "We sat by the beach, getting pissed, thinking up captions. Hopefully it's cheeky rather than defamatory."

The lawyers who worked on the book number half a dozen. "There aren't many jokes about Tom Cruise," Wright says sadly. But there is a "Camelid Wordsearch" in which you can find "alpaca", "humps", "spit" and "Suri".

Modelled on old-fashioned Christmas annuals, it is by turns scabrous (cut-out-and-keep celebrity cock puppet), sweet (knit-your-own otter pattern) and daft – a picture of someone's chin made up to look like Jodie Marsh. "Oh yeah," says Wright. "That was me. I was aiming for Madonna, but it kind of went wrong."

'Popbitch: Celebrity Excess and Other Monkey Business' (Century, £16.99) is out now

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