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Boris stops British book

London mayoral candidate Boris Johnson's book on the British—a major title for HarperCollins this spring—has been delayed as he concentrates on his election campaign.

Johnson's The British, in which he attempts to unravel what it means to be British today, was originally due from HarperPress on 3rd March. But Johnson wrote in his Telegraph column last week that he was postponing further work on the book until after the election in May.

"Last week I rifled through my rucksack and found my massive but only half-completed manuscript for a book about the British, already weighing in at several pounds. With a sigh I chucked it over the edge of a ravine," he wrote. "Who knows whether it will ever be found again, or whether the fruits of a lifetime's meditation on our national character will be eaten by a yak, or used to line the nest of an alpine chough?"

But HC said the book was still very much part of its publishing plans, although it is unlikely to materialise this year. "We are still going to publish it," said publishing director Susan Watt. "When he has completed the mayoral election process he will return to writing it. It is something that he is very absorbed with and he's taken great pleasure in its subject."

Watt admitted that HC was losing a "big title" in its 2008 schedule, but said that postponing the book would allow Johnson to commit to publicity. "It certainly is a big title, but we would expect Boris to be able to promote it—something he is excellent at."

Arcadia has a biography of rival mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone due on 30th April, Ken: The Fall and Rise of Ken Livingstone (h/b, £15.99). Harriman House published The Little Book of Boris last autumn, while Simon & Schuster has the biography Boris: The Rise of Boris Johnson by Andrew Gimson. Johnson himself has written seven other titles, including last November's The Perils of the Pushy Parents: A Cautionary Tale.

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