Penguin Classics to Release Morrissey’s Autobiography

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Penguin Classics, well known amongst collectors for their editorial taste and iconic covers, will be publishing Morrissey’s autobiography on Thursday in the United Kingdom. Morrissey, a colorful personality, was the lead singer for the classic British rock band The Smiths in the 1980s before launching a hugely successful solo career. Morrissey was - and still is - an icon of the counterculture movement, with legions of dedicated fans around the world.  In recent years Morrissey has become almost as well known for his dedication to animal rights movements.

Penguin’s decision to publish the first edition of Morrissey’s autobiography as a “classic” has sparked a great deal of controversy. The book, apparently, has not even been read by anyone outside of Penguin’s team.

The Independent ran a scathing critique of Penguin’s decision, with contributor Boyd Tonkin writing, “How do you wreck overnight the reputation of a global brand that, since 1946, has built up its worldwide trust on the basis of consistent excellence, expert selection and a commitment to pick and sell only the very best? Easy, really. You chuck 67 years of editorial rigour and learning out of the corporate window and kowtow to the whims of a petulant pop icon.”

Reportedly, Morrissey only agreed to publish his autobiography with Penguin if they released it under their Classics imprint.  

In my opinion, Morrissey’s arguable bluff - which obviously paid off - is so classically Morrissey, sparking admiration and condemnation in the same breath. I can’t help but be amused at the audacity of the stunt.  It’s such a violation of the previous editorial vision, that I’m stunned into a bemused silence.

Of course, all critical views aside, the book will sell in droves. But the decision to release the autobiography as an instant “classic” will be debated for some time to come.

In the meantime, Penguin Classics collectors out there will have another volume to add to their 1300+ collections.
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