Morrissey’s much-anticipated autobiography was meant to be published by Penguin on 16 September but was pulled at the last minute because of a “content disagreement”. Penguin have since claimed that the book will in fact be published by them. Noisey has found the letter* Morrissey wrote to Penguin, which details the singer’s complaints with his would-be publishers.
FROM THE CHAMBER OF MORRISSEY
To the board of directors of that disreputable publishing house, Penguin,
Frankly, I always suspected you to be honourless money grubbers and now I know it for sure. You say you can't publish Morrissey’s autobiography but as you well know, you cannot take your eyes off the bottom line for long enough to understand that what you have in Morrissey’s autobiography is not a “product” but a transcendental idea, a song of truth and revenge, a 600-word unveiling of Britain’s supreme mind which also happens to include one of the finest 150-word digressions on the habits of Alan Bennett’s dogs ever committed to the page. I have produced a piece of art and you have asked me to turn it into tawdry gossip and I refuse to do it, I refuse to talk of Johnny Marr’s perverse taste in guitars or speak at length of my great friend Ronan Keating’s lengthy struggle with his perfectly sculpted abs. Though my ears are floppy and attractive, I will not have you steal from me as you have stolen from the noble rabbit, Peter. Where, I ask, are his royalties? You eat his family at your table thrice-weekly, please have the decency to pay him the money he is owed.
You want to censor me, to control me, to “edit” me, but I will not have my soul ravaged in this way. My autobiography is purely of myself, and why should it not be? Modesty did for Jesus but it will not do for me. I am the greater man; you will not nail me to a cross made of quarterly sales reports. You will not water me down like the cheap bacon I abhor; you will not rip the soul from my work and peddle it in your book markets. If I want to tear into that bastion of disreputable filth, the New Musical Express, then who are you to stop me? If I want to include a 90-page freeform poem about my abhorrent grandmother’s flour-stained hands, then I will be my own guest, and at your expense. If I want to talk about how immigration has ruined Britain, I will not let you assault me with your political correctness. I will tell you what I told the rhythm section of my popular group, The Smiths: I don’t know who you are and your opinions are meaningless to me.
I should have known better. After all, it is such common knowledge that your founder Sir Allen Lane created Penguin to flog cheap paperback books from vending machines. I didn’t want my unique story to be shot out into the arms of the slavering public as if it were nothing more than a Marathon bar but I have always maintained a certain winsome fondness for the Penguin Classics series. After all, what is Morrissey if he is not a classic creation, forged from the dreams of Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde and Oswald Mosley? I condescended to be published by your house but I see now that there is a plague on your house. We live in a culture that finds no real place for artistry and sees no poetry in the nationalistic ramblings of a man in possession of one of the world’s largest foreheads. In short, we live at the end of days, days in which you can refer to your desire to desecrate my magnum opus as a “content disagreement”. My genitals are full of “content”. How would you like that content smeared across your faces, you loathsome tyrants?
This is not a question of money. I still maintain houses in Los Angeles, Rome and Hulme – the latter I have not visited for many years and assume to be in a state of total collapse, along with the once-proud nation it is a part of. I pay the wages of a kind lady, Magneta, who keeps house for me, and I maintain an intern, Fabio, who cleans my pool and proof-reads my poetry. In short, I am a rich man. But I am a poet too, possessed of the soul of a pig (this is a great compliment, for the pig has the most artistic of souls) and the common touch of a Burberry-clad lout. I am the voice of all generations and you cannot silence me. To hell with your “content disagreement”, I shall publish my work in pamphlet form.
Morrissey, Los Angeles, September 2013
*As told to @OscarRickettNow