Today was a really good day.
Before Christmas, I had managed to interest the Daily Mail is doing a feature on my biography of Basil Clarke, the Daily Mail First World War reporter who went on to become the father of the UK public relations industry.
But it didn’t appear over Christmas and, because the article led with Clarke’s experience of Christmas 1914, I thought that the chance had passed with the end of the festive season.
But then today it appeared. Headlined Mail man who went to the trenches in a bowler hat and Burberry coat, it focused on how Clarke lived in Flanders as a fugitive in late 1914 so that he could send back reports of the fighting to London.
It’s a really good piece. And I can say that because though it has my byline, it was actually adapted from my book by Guy Waters, an excellent writer who did a fantastic job on it.
I’m really pleased because it seems the article has sparked some interest in Clarke and also helped book sales. This evening my biography of him had even sneaked (however fleetingly) into the top 20 best-selling British political biographies.
Most importantly, though, it is nice to see Clarke’s work celebrated in his old newspaper. Today is, I believe, the first time he had been mentioned in it since it published a short obituary in 1947 – that’s 66 years ago – and I think he would have been really proud of it.
Buoyed by the article, I took a copy of the Daily Mail into Waterstones in Bloomsbury at lunchtime to see if there might be any chance of doing something there to promote it.
As well as having a good chat with a member of the staff there, I was pleasantly surprised to see that not only do they stock the book, but that it faces out so you can see the front cover.
It was the first time I’d seen it on an actual shelf in a book shop. And even better to be in one of my favourite bookshops.
So, yes, a really good day!