What will David Cameron's memoirs be called?

He has signed a ‘significant’ deal for his memoirs – but will he pick a winning title?

David Cameron’s memoir, which has just been sold to William Collins in a “hotly contested and significant deal”, is as yet untitled, according to his publisher. He’d better think carefully, because a title can make all the difference, publishing history shows.

Tony Blair broke records in 2010 with his autobiography, the reality-TV-esque A Journey. With a £4.6m advance, it sold 92,060 copies in its first four days – the best figures for an autobiography since records began in 1998. Julian Glover in the Guardian compared it to “a trashy airport read”.

Gordon Brown’s post-prime ministerial book, by contrast, had less of the glitz. In late 2010 he published Beyond the Crash: Overcoming the First Crisis of Globalization, in which Blair, Peter Mandelson and Cameron were notable by their absence.

There were even fewer verbal thrills from John Major, whose 1999 autobiography was titled The Autobiography. The book focused on European politics, with remarkably little personal reflection compared with, say, Edwina Currie’s 2002 Diaries. Margaret Thatcher, before him, wrote three autobiographies. The Downing Street Years (1993) was accompanied by a four-part BBC documentary, and probably outsold even Blair (though it was published before official records began). It was followed by The Path to Power (1995) and Statecraft (2003).

Before Thatcher came the poetic Time and Chance by James Callaghan (1987) and the stately Memoirs: the making of a Prime Minister 1916-1964 (1986) by Harold Wilson, who was a prolific writer throughout his life.

Cameron says that his book will cover all the decisions he made as prime minister, and promises to “be frank about what worked and what didn’t”. Perhaps he should go for a Hollywood-esque title. Something like “Frankly My Dear…” should bring in the sales.


Katy Guest

The GuardianTramp

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