The COVID-19 epidemic has brought the world to a standstill, and in recent months the media has been full of grim news about death tolls, unemployment, isolation and hospital shortages. However, even in these grim times, there have been uplifting stories showcasing just how well humans can rise to the occasion and work to help one another. There have been countless acts of compassion and charity over the past few months, but arguably the most noble comes from British WWII veteran Captain Tom Moore who, with his 100th birthday fast approaching, took it upon himself to raise money for the British NHS by completing 100 laps of his 25-metre garden in an effort to raise £1,000. His fundraising soon went viral, and received attention and donations from around the world. By the morning of his 100th birthday, Captain Tom Moore had raised over £30,000,000, with the final count came to a whopping £32,796,475, plus another £6,173,663.31 expected in tax rebates under the Gift Aid scheme. Having received worldwide fame for his fundraising, Penguin has now struck a deal to publish two memoirs of this remarkable man.
The first book, entitled Tomorrow Will Be a Good Day, was hotly sought after by as number of high profile publishers, but ultimately Penguin sealed the deal. As The Bookseller reports, Penguin has stated Captain Moore’s autobiography will “tell of his distinguished and dramatic life”, including “how his spirit was forged on the battlefields of Burma, how he fearlessly raced motorbikes competitively and how he took off for the Himalayas in his nineties, simply because he’d never been”.
The memoir is set to be published later this year on 17th September and will be available in hardback, as an e-book, and an audiobook. As if that wasn’t enough, a children’s picture book will also be published on 1st October, and will “reflect the themes of adventure, helping people and never giving up, capturing Captain Tom’s story for the younger generation”.
While unconfirmed, it is speculated PRH paid a £1.5 million advance for the two books, though the books are said to support the new Captain Tom Foundation, which intends to inspire hope wherever it is needed. Rowland White, publishing director at Michael Joseph, will be publishing Captain Tom’s memoirs, and said: “Like millions of others in this country, and indeed around the world, I watched Captain Tom’s remarkable achievement raising a staggering sum of money for NHS Charities. At a time when the country was looking for hope and reassurance, Captain Tom stepped forward and made us believe that tomorrow would be a good day. It is a privilege and an honour to be his publisher and to share his remarkable story.”
Speaking with The Bookseller, he added: “One of the stories I heard and I loved is that, around the time we were starting to all argue about Brexit, Captain Tom took himself off to the Himalayas – in his 90s – simply because he’d never been. He went by himself. He hired a plane while he was out there so he could fly over the top of Everest, and then came home again. It’s a heartwarming indication of the kind of man he is, of this curiosity and love of life that has obviously fueled all 100 years he has so far been around.”
Commenting on Captain Moore’s extraordinary life, he said: “He’s a man with an appetite for life but also evidently a man with enormous humanity and compassion and those things just come off him in waves. And because it’s been so real and organic, you can’t contrive something like this, people recognise something in him genuine and authentic.
“There were a lot of conversations about what the response in publishing would be to Covid-19, what kinds of books would we see, what books would rise to the surface as a result, whether we would see memoirs from the NHS frontline or all want the literary equivalent of chicken soup for the soul. It seems to me that actually Captain Tom’s book is the perfect response from the book world to the horrible situation we’re all living through. This is the book we all need from the man who proved to be the hero we were all looking for.”
Speaking of the upcoming children’s book, Managing director at Penguin Random House Children’s, Francesca Dow, said Puffin was “thrilled and honoured to be working with Captain Tom to tell his and his family’s story in picture-book form”.
“One of the most extraordinary things that Captain Tom has managed to achieve at this unique and difficult time is to bring people together with a common aim: to help others,” she said. “We are all part of Captain Tom’s story and I couldn’t be prouder to be publishing a picture book with him. The book captures his spirit: like his life, it will be full of adventure, the power of helping people and the importance of never giving up.
“And Captain Tom’s book resonates with what we at Puffin, especially in this our 80th year, hope to achieve with every book we publish: to enable readers of all ages to see themselves in the book, and to share the message that we are stronger, and can achieve more, when we work together.
“In these extraordinary times, working with my colleagues across Penguin Random House to be part of this significant publishing moment has been exhilarating and grounding. We’ve leveraged each other’s strengths to bring the legacy of the Captain Tom Foundation – to help people to help others, across generations – to readers of all ages.”