Unauthorized biographies are one thing – but unauthorized autobiographies? Still, that’s what Canongate Books is publishing today, with its new book about Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.
Last December, Assange signed a contract with the publisher to write a book that would be part memoir, part manifesto. He was given an advance said to be worth £500,000.
“I hope this book will become one of the unifying documents of our generation. In this highly personal work, I explain our global
struggle to force a new relationship between the people and their governments,” he said at the time.
Assange went on to participate in more than 50 hours of taped interviews with ghost writer Andrew O’Hagan.
But after seeing the first draft in March, he changed his mind – apparently saying it was because he regarded all memoir as prostitution. He was also concerned that it could help US attempts to extradite him on espionage charges.
“On 7 June 2011, with 38 publishing houses around the world committed to releasing the book, Julian told us he wanted to cancel his contract. However, he had already signed his advance over to his lawyers to settle his legal bills,” says Canongate.
“We have decided to honour that contract and to publish. Once the advance has been earned out, we will continue to honour the
contract and pay Julian royalties.”
In Julian Assange: The Unauthorised Autobiography, Assange tackles everything from the joys of hacking to the ‘neurotic’ woman that accused him of sexual assault in Sweden.
The book isn’t to be published in the US, as its publisher there, Alfred A Knopf, canceled the contract when Assange pulled out. We expect plenty of excerpts to be leaked on the web, though.