Morrissey’s Autobiography – the singer’s self-explanatory memoir, released with some degree of fanfare by Penguin Classics in the UK in October – has already met with great success on these shores, despite (or, given the devotion of his fanbase, perhaps because of) the fact that the book was seemingly largely unedited from his original manuscript, a brief acknowledgement given to Penguin’s Helen Conford for being ‘a steady scrutineer’ the only suggestion that anyone at the publisher was even allowed to read the book before it went to press. Several sources, however, are now reporting that that is emphatically not the case for the book’s American release through Penguin imprint G.P. Putnam’s Sons, with all details of Morrissey’s relationship with photographer Jake Owen Walters apparently removed from the text. A photo of Walters as a young boy present in the UK edition is also nowhere to be found.
The book never actually specifies the precise nature of the two men’s relationship – and, in answer to questions raised by the book’s intimations, the author released a statement saying ‘Unfortunately, I am not homosexual. In technical fact, I am humasexual. I am attracted to humans. But, of course … not many‘ – but it is made clear that for the duration of that two year relationship, Morrissey bestows upon Walters a degree of ardour and affection not commonly given others. For a man who has long claimed celibacy, admissions of even this degree of emotional intimacy qualify as a big deal.
The reason for the changes – and, perhaps more to the point, who requested they be made in the first place – has not yet been made public. Given the confused circumstances surrounding the book’s publication – with its initial UK release announced less than a month before the first copies hit shelves – the most likely possibilities seem to be that either Walters has taken issue with how Morrissey depicts their relationship, or that Morrissey himself was made to feel uncomfortable by the tumult that greeted his revelations. Either way, American fans who want to read the (for better or worse) entirely unexpurgated version should prepare to pay international shipping costs.