Driven by the dual motors of a rabidly obsessive fanbase and plenty of gawkers drawn in by its perennially publicity-generating author, Morrissey’s Autobiography has topped the Official UK Top 50 (putting it in the company of Meat Is Murder, Viva Hate, Vauxhall and I and Ringleader of the Tormentors in the Moz corpus). Since its release last Thursday (17 October) the book has sold 34,918 copies (and will probably have crossed the 35,000 mark by the time this post goes live). That means that not only is it the biggest selling title in the UK this week – beating the second week of Helen Fielding’s Mad About the Boy, down to 32,172 copies from its opening week of 48,750 – but it has beaten the 28,213 copies shifted by Keith Richards’ Life in its 2010 first week to become the fastest selling music memoir since records began (although that was only in 1998, and so discounts the massive success of Cilla Black’s 1985 blockbuster Step Inside). Morrissey also recorded the biggest first week sales for a memoir of any kind since the 72,500 copies sold of Kate McCann’s Madeleine in the week beginning 12 May 2011.
That’s not such bad going for a book whose very existence seemed to be in doubt until a little over a month ago, when any deal between Penguin and Morrissey appeared to have fallen apart completely. The primary condition of their reconciliation – that the book be published as a Penguin Classic – has, of course, drawn no shortage of attention in the intervening weeks, no doubt piquing the interest of those keen to see if it lives up to such lofty standards. Also keeping the publicity fires burning: one lone (flesh and blood at least, David Beckham) book signing in Gothenburg, lists compiling some of the book’s more quotable lines and similarly arch clarifications from the man himself (‘Unfortunately, I am not homosexual. In technical fact, I am humasexual. I am attracted to humans. But, of course … not many.’ – italics Morrissey’s own)