Publisher pays £400,000 for Blunkett's memoirs

His personal life has generated countless headlines and inspired a satirical television play - now David Blunkett hopes to regain control over how history perceives him by publishing his political memoirs.

Bloomsbury Publishing, home to the Harry Potter series, is believed to have paid the former cabinet minister a £400,000 advance for The Blunkett Tapes - his reflections on the political events of the nine years since Labour came to power. Originally recorded on to tape, then transcribed, the memoirs will be published simultaneously as a book, in braille and in an audio edition in October.

Although Mr Blunkett received higher offers from rival publishers, he opted for Bloomsbury because the publishing house was prepared to let him concentrate on his political career and overcoming disability, rather than his private life.

In a statement, the publisher described The Blunkett Tapes as "an honest self-portrait and intimate insight into new Labour's years in power".

Mr Blunkett said: "I have chosen Bloomsbury because they understood the nature of the book I wanted to write and will harness all their publishing expertise to the project."

Michael Fishwick, director at Bloomsbury, said: "In terms of political writing these journals are pure gold; an account of what it is like inside the corridors of power from someone at the centre of government."

But Joel Ricketts of The Bookseller said Bloomsbury would struggle to recoup its advance. "Political publishing is full of books that have fallen by the wayside. Having said that, he is one of those rare politicians who have reached out beyond the Westminster jungle and that will give it some saleability," he said.

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