Nicola Sturgeon signs deal for 'deeply personal and revealing' autobiography after nine-way publishing bidding war

9 August 2023, 14:49

Nicola Sturgeon is writing her 'deeply and personal' memoir
Nicola Sturgeon is writing her 'deeply and personal' memoir. Picture: Alamy
Gina Davidson

By Gina Davidson

Nicola Sturgeon is writing a "deeply personal" and potentially explosive memoir which will chart her rise to the top of Scottish politics.

Publisher Pan Macmillan has revealed it won the British and Commonwealth rights to the book after a  nine publisher auction, sparking speculation that it could mean a financial windfall for the former First Minister.

The as-yet-untitled book is expected to chart how she went from “being a shy child from a working-class family in Ayrshire to the steps of Bute House” and will touch on political events, including the Scottish independence referendum, Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic.

Nicola Sturgeon
Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: Alamy

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On her own Instagram page, Nicola Sturgeon, who has spoken often of her love of books, said she was “thrilled” to be working with the publisher, which she said had “proud Scottish roots”.

Now a backbench SNP MSP at Holyrood, Ms Sturgeon unexpectedly stood down as First Minister and SNP leader in  February this year, sparking a bruising battle to replace her.

Just weeks later her house was raided by police and her husband, and former SNP chief executive, Peter Murrell was arrested as part of its Operation Branchform investigation into the party’s finances.

He was released without charge, but Nicola Sturgeon was also later arrested and questioned by detectives, as was former party treasurer and SNP MSP Colin Beattie - both also released without charge. The police inquiry is still ongoing, and the memoir, due to be published in 2025 is likely to cover the investigation.

Pan Macmillan's announcement said: "The result will be a deeply personal and revealing memoir from one of Britain's most significant political leaders of recent times."

Ms Sturgeon said: "I am thrilled to be working with Pan Macmillan, a globally-renowned publisher with proud Scottish roots. I have loved my life in politics, but ever since I was a child I have harboured an ambition to write.

"Embarking on this book is therefore exciting, if also daunting.

"I aim to chronicle key events of the past three decades of Scottish and British politics and take the reader behind the scenes to describe how it felt to be 'in the room', who else was there, the relationships involved and how decisions were arrived at.

"I will talk about what I am proud of and be frank about my regrets. I will reflect on the challenges of being a woman in politics and reveal more about the person behind the politician.

"I will also draw on my 35 years of experience to offer some thoughts on the future of Scotland, the UK and democracy in general."

She said she will dedicate the book to her late uncle. "It is slightly bitter-sweet today, though, as I head to the funeral of my uncle, the journalist Iain Ferguson. This is something that I always hoped we might work together on some day. Instead, it will be a book I dedicate to him."

Ms Sturgeon’s predecessor Alex Salmond also published a book after standing down as First Minister. However his “The Dream Will Never Die” focused more on the 2014 independence campaign than his own political journey.

Responding to the memoir announcement, Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Willie Rennie MSP said:

"As an avid bookworm it was only a matter of time before Nicola Sturgeon penned her own. I'm sure she will have interesting things to say about leading the country through the Covid pandemic, her split from Alex Salmond and more.

"Given the ongoing ructions within the SNP, I imagine she is leaving the final chapter blank for now.

"And with a rumoured six-figure advance she can finally buy the motorhome she has always wanted."

Scottish Conservative chairman Craig Hoy said: “Nicola Sturgeon’s well-documented difficulties are sure to fuel interest in her book, but unless she wants it filed under ‘fiction’, she needs to be up front and honest about her huge failings as First Minister and SNP leader.

“Her reputation has taken a huge hit in recent months, not just for the scandal engulfing her and her husband, but because of the fact that several of her key policies – such as the Deposit Return Scheme, the National Care Service, devastating fishing restrictions and the alcohol advertising ban – have unravelled.

“When you add in Nicola Sturgeon’s appalling legacy on education and drug deaths, and reflect on how she divided Scotland with her endless push for separation, she has a pretty grim story to tell.”