Media: THE LITERATOR INSIDE PUBLISHING

Thrusting display

Anyone who watched enthralled as Richard Noble and Andy Green created the world's first supersonic land-speed record in the Nevada desert last October might like to pop along to Olympia today where the Thrust car in which he drove into history is on display, burn marks and all.

It won't be moving, of course - indeed it arrived by container yesterday from Farnborough, where it is garaged - and is there to celebrate the forthcoming publication of Noble's memoirs, due from Partridge Press this autumn. The author will be pressing the flesh of eager booksellers who, without having read a word, see his autobiography as a Christmas bestseller.

Late last year, the book was the subject of a publishing fracas, when Macmillan staff proudly announced they had bought it - only to discover that someone else had got there first. They had been a little too, er, thrusting. Never mind: they got Chris Patten as a consolation prize.

Heffer homes in

Meanwhile, Simon Heffer, who stomped out of HarperCollins over the Patten affair, has this week fetched up at Weidenfeld & Nicolson - publishers of one Alan Clark - who will publish his authorised biography of the late Enoch Powell in November. Heffer has been working on the study for three years.

True colours

Few listeners to Radio 4's Today programme can have any doubts as to the true political beliefs of presenter John Humphrys, impartial though he is meant to be. Now he is putting himself on the line with Who Cares? The State of Britain Today, which Hutchinson have just bought for publication next spring.

The book will examine the social and moral state of the nation and ask if this is where we want to be.

Brave new world

Meanwhile, in the world of children's publishing, it's heartening to see that the Watts Publishing Group is clearly performing well. For the company is sponsoring The Unicorn Theatre for Children - London's only such theatre - which this year celebrates its half-century. The partnership kicked off last week with a day of face-painting and high jinks, plus appearances by the likes of Michael Rosen, Prunella Scales and Edward Fox.

Singing the blues

Michael Holroyd, esteemed biographer of the Bloomsbury set and George Bernard Shaw, is at work on his own life history, to be published next year. Nice man that he is, however, there is a feeling among many in the industry that Holroyd's memoirs won't be interesting enough to justify the reported advance of pounds 150,000 paid by Philippa Harrison, Little Brown's CEO and publisher, for Basil Street Blues. At least Margaret Drabble will read it.

Timely sequel

Love 'em or loathe 'em - publishers clearly love 'em - there seems no end in sight to sequelmania. And what better time to publish a sequel than on an anniversary?

From the United States comes news that the showbiz journalist and biographer Michael Walsh is at work on As Time Goes By. No prizes for guessing that the novel is a sequel to Casablanca; in fact it is both prequel and sequel rolled into one, for it will tell the story of what preceded the period covered by the movie.

There is no word on a British publisher yet, but Warner US - part of the Time Warner family and thus a sister company to Warner Bros, which made Casablanca - will publish it in October.

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