Harpenden author's book set to become a paperback record breaker

A HARPENDEN author could make literary history this month after penning an award-winning biography of Save the Children founder Eglantyne Jebb. Clare Mulley s critically-acclaimed biography, The Woman Who Saved the Children, is being launched in paperback

A HARPENDEN author could make literary history this month after penning an award-winning biography of Save the Children founder Eglantyne Jebb.

Clare Mulley's critically-acclaimed biography, The Woman Who Saved the Children, is being launched in paperback this Sunday, Mother's Day, and is forecast to become its publisher's fastest-selling paperback ever.

Projected sales figures from publishers Oneworld Publications show up to 10,000 copies could be sold within days of its launch and, although its other authors have sold a similar number, it has been in significantly more time.

It means the biography - mentioned by Gordon Brown as one of his favourite reads - is set to become the fastest-selling paperback in the firm's 26-year history.


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Clare, 40, who was brought up in Harpenden and was a student at St George's School in the 1970s, could also top the book charts after bookseller Waterstones snapped up the title for a three-for-two promotion.

Oneworld director Juliet Mabey credited the "unprecedented" sales forecast with the success of the original hardcover version. It won the Daily Mail Biographers' Club prize and was very well received by critics.

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Yet Clare, who is a former Save the Children fundraiser, has no formal writing experience. She explained that her fascination with Eglantyne Jebb was sparked in the late 1990s when she was working with the charity and decided to delve into the remarkable life of its founder.

She said that within days, she was totally hooked. "I realised very quickly that her work permanently changed the way that the world treats children but that very little had been written about her as a person.

"Over the years I managed to read her love letters and family scrapbooks, eat from her plates, sleep in her nursery and hold a curl of her baby hair. I even bought her signature on eBay. You might say I became a bit of a 'psycho-stalker"

Clare spent the next seven years studying Eglantyne who, ironically, was not fond of children. Despite her pioneering work, which led to the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child, she referred to youngsters as, "little wretches".

The Woman Who Saved the Children, which is Clare's debut book, has a foreword by Princess Anne, the charity's president, and Gordon Brown described it as, "a truly brilliant book about a woman who changed the world forever and for the better."

Clare is now working on her second biography from her home in Saffron Walden, Essex.

All royalties from the sale of The Woman Who Saved the Children go to the charity and its Haiti disaster appeal.

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