Friday, 18 April 2014

George Formby: A Troubled Genius Revised Re-Issue

In this revised edition of the work which topped the best-sellers in 1999 David Bret draws on exclusive interviews with those who knew him., incorporating a wealth of previously unobtainable source material to tell the real story of a troubled genius whose every move was directed by his domineering wife, Beryl~a fearsome entrepreneur without whose Svengali presence Formby would have never made the big time. In this sincere biography, Bret discloses the secret love affairs of both George and Beryl, their stance against apartheid which saw them ejected from South Africa, the collapse of their marriage, and the squabble over their fortune by rapacious relatives. Bret also examines the Formbys' courage and dedication to charity work, particularly during World War II.

With a detailed analysis of Formby's films, stage plays and recording work, this controversial biography reveals the complex, frequently difficult man who was and remains one of Britain's most popular entertainers.

It's been a long time coming!

When I made the Formby film a couple of years ago, the entire production team wanted copies of the book, fifty in all, and it really was a case of the early bird catching the worm. Back in 1999 the publisher was a little dubious that George might have been a "speciality" and limited the print-run to 10,000 copies. The George Formby Society loved the book in galley proofs, one of the rare occasions I've let anyone read my book prior to publication. Then it was serialised in two national newspapers, and they picked up on me calling George a "camp icon". Another classic case of mistaking shit for pudding. Their president sent out letters to every member asking them to boycott the book--I'd accused George of being gay! No, I hadn't. I'd said camp! And of course, when someone tells someone not to do a thing, they do it all the more. The print-run ran out in just three days, and it was reprinted again...and again. The same happened with the paperback, and sales hit the six-figure mark. Then my publisher moved to fresh pastures, and just before making the Formby film I withdrew publishing rights so that I could revise the book. Other projects got in the way. Unlike Johnny Rogan and one or two others I don't spend donkeys' years regurgitating the same boring subject time and time again. I didn't have any spare copies of the book, and I was stunned that the film people were paying up to £150 a copy, of which I received not one penny--well, I was paid for the film! Then last year, I was asked to republish the book with a house who had earlier rejected it, claiming that everyone who wanted to buy it would already have it. I said No. Now, at last, I've revised it and have published it at a price the fans can afford--no good stinging them when they've been so good to me over the years, though I still don't get all this new-fangled download craze! The book's on Lulu as from today, print or download, and will be available everywhere else in three weeks' time.
Turned out nice again, as they say!

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