Don’t Forget This: It’s Out Now!
The journey of writing a book doesn’t end on its publication day. It’s where the real journey begins. And I feel this is doubly so for ‘The Book of Forgotten Authors’, which is out today.
Once there were popular novels almost everyone owned. Mum had Georgette Heyer, Dad had Eric Ambler, I had Dennis Wheatley’s ‘The Devil Rides Out’. They were the paperbacks that somehow shaped our imaginations and became touchstones in our lives. They were surprisingly influential and often hugely successful, but at some point they completely vanished from shelves and their writers vanished. What happened to them? If these books were any good at all, why were these authors forgotten? Absence doesn’t make the heart grow fonder. It makes people think you’re dead.
Every book lover has a favourite forgotten author. I decided to investigate further and was deluged with suggestions. The reasons for the disappearances were often amazing. Once famous writers became alcoholics, switched genders, adopted false identities, lost fortunes, discovered new careers, got banned, married millionaires, died of shame, went mad, reinvented themselves, and sometimes lived happily ever after in blissful obscurity. I discovered that one dated a porn star, one got involved with a murderer, one was caught up in a sex scandal and one turned out to be Winston Churchill.
The forgotten authors have stories to tell which are as surprising than anything they created. They wrote books you’ve heard of but can’t quite remember, books that live on, passed down through families to end up in second-hand shops.
I set out on a ten-year mission to collect these extraordinary stories in ‘The Book of Forgotten Authors’, whittling down 450 writers to 99 studies for this volume, and writing a dozen essays about others, from marvellous missing thriller writers to the world’s worst novelists.
I discovered for example how Walt Disney saved banned Jewish writers, and how Alfred Hitchcock discovered female suspense novelists. I tracked some down to their homes, where they told me the truth about what had happened to them. These are the authors who deserve to be remembered and enjoyed by book lovers everywhere. The selection is designed to inspire, to offer new reading ideas and let you take another look at authors you thought you knew.
‘The Book of Forgotten Authors’ is available in a gorgeous gold hardback, price 14.99, and there are signed copies already in London at Forbidden Planet, Hatchard’s St Pancras, Goldsboro Books and those lovely folk at the London Review Bookshop.