My Mother, the Bearded Lady: The Selected Letters of Miles Kington
By Miles Kington
A hilarious collection of correspondence
Publication date: September 2019Buy
A limited edition print of a cartoon of Miles by US illustrator and cartoonist, Arnold Roth, signed by the artist, a copy of the hardback print edition plus the ebook and your name in the back of the book. Only 20 available.
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Endlessly interested in people, and effortlessly funny, Miles Kington has left behind a collection of over 25,000 letters written with style and wit to those at the bottom of the pile and to those at the top, to struggling students, to strangers and friends, to those who criticised and to those who wanted something from him. His one, as yet unfulfilled wish, was to see a collection of those letters published.
My Mother, the Bearded Lady: The Selected Letters of Miles Kington will be edited by his widow, Caroline, and will feature over 250 of some of the very best letters from across his writing life.
'From an early age,’ Miles Kington once wrote, ‘I knew I wanted to be a humorous writer and a jazz musician . . . and when I went to Oxford University I spent most of the time playing the double bass in jazz groups and writing undergraduate humour. Thus when I left university I was almost entirely unfitted for life, and consequently went to London to try my luck as a freelance humorous writer, where I nearly starved to death.’
During his lifetime Miles wrote for Punch, where he created the hugely popular Franglais, then went on to write a daily humorous column for The Times, followed by The Independent. He wrote over thirty thousand newspaper columns in his lifetime, as well as contributing to countless magazines and other publications.
Turning his back on a promising career in television because he wanted to concentrate on writing, he became a regular broadcaster on radio until his death in 2008, which shocked everyone who knew of him because he told very few about his cancer and continued writing to the last day of his life.
- 14th September 2018 Advice for Literary Editors
Hello again, and sorry we have been quiet for a while.
We are knee-deep in edits at the moment, going through each letter line-by-line, annotating with facts and context, asking a few people for permission to use their letters to Miles as they help explain an entertaining response from him, and also trying to persuade Unbound to let us include more letters than we had originally budgeted for.…17th December 2017 Festive Update
Hello lovely supporters.
This is just a pre-Christmas update on how the book is going. Caroline and I are currently trying to work out, along with the production team at Unbound, just how many letters we can cram into this book. We want to include as many as possible but we don't want to make the type so small that you'll need a magnifying glass to read the bloomin' thing. With a bit of festive…9th November 2017 The Letters Have Landed
Just a short update to let you know that all the letters selected for the book are now in the Unbound offices where they will be sent off to be typed up. Then we'll have one big Word document to work from as we tweak, add comments and generally get the manuscript ready for publication.
Meanwhile, here's a letter from the BBC about Miles' appearance on Call My Bluff in the early 70s. It won…12th October 2017 Yours Sincerely
One of the many joys of working through the boxes and files of letters as we edit this book is stumbling across correspondence to Miles from the great and the good, many of whom were friends of his.
Recognise any of these signatures?
Clues, in case you need them: A Python, an illustrator, a conductor and a poet.9th October 2017 Notes from Limpley Stoke
Last week I paid my third visit to Limpley Stoke where Caroline and I (more or less) finished the final selection of letters for the book.
We now have three ringbinders full of copies of letters in plastic sleeves. These are grouped into thematic chapters (more on those at a later date) and are chronological within each chapter. Caroline is just checking and finishing off the running order and…19th September 2017 Boxes, Dogs and Whittling Down
I was back in Limpley Stoke last week, to work with Caroline and her friend, Megan, on the next round of the selection process. We made excellent progress and I think one more session, scheduled for early October, will be all we need to have the final content for the book in place.
But it has been rather a large job. Just look at the boxes and boxes of material that had to be sorted through.…13th July 2017 Bacon and Marmalade on Toast
When I headed home from Limpley Stoke last week, Caroline kindly gave me a loaf of bread she had baked to Miles' special recipe, telling me that it was best when toasted and that Miles enjoyed it with marmalade and grilled bacon on it for breakfast.
Well, it would have been rude not to.
And, of course, you too can enjoy this bread, with our without marmalade and bacon, by pledging for…7th July 2017 Greetings from Limpley Stoke
Yesterday I travelled down to visit Caroline Kington at the home she shared with Miles in Limpley Stoke. Together we spent some hours going through the many folders of letters that she has collated, picking out those we felt would be perfect for inclusion in My Mother, the Bearded Lady.
We have decided on grouping the letters by theme, rather than chronologically, as this is intended to be…14th June 2017 100%: A Thank You
I am delighted to announce that My Mother, the Bearded Lady, has hit its target and will now go into production. Here is a personal message from Caroline Kington:
'On Miles’s behalf, I would like to thank all those who have supported this project and helped me fulfil my promise to my beloved husband. He never took his professional writing for granted. Although he wrote every day, he never ‘just…6th June 2017 Miles on Autobiographies
Greetings lovely supporters!
It has been a while since we posted an update. Apologies for our tardiness but we have been beavering away behind the scenes trying to get this book funded. Progress, we can report, is slow but steady. We are reliably informed that every project on Unbound that has reached 70% of its target has subsequently gone on to be published, so you can imagine our excitement…3rd March 2017 A Life Cut Short
We are delighted to report that we have added a brand new reward to our panoply of delights: a CD containing the last recorded interview Miles gave.
The broadcaster Tony Staveacre has kindly offered the recordings to help support our aim to get this volume of Miles' letters funded and published. Here's a short introduction to the CD from Tony:
For a man who wrote at least 800 words nearly every…16th February 2017 Three Miles High
Last week we shared Miles' resignation letter from Punch magazine. In it he mentions a possible television documentary about the Andes railways.
And here it is.8th February 2017 Resigning from Punch
In 1980, following the suggestion of its editor, Alan Coren, Miles resigned from his position as a writer for Punch magazine. The reasons are self-evident from his resignation letter, which is included in full below.
It is interesting to note that the column in the Mirror never materialised, although the television documentary about the Andes railways did come about.19th January 2017 A 'Thank You' Letter
As we make progress with crowdfunding this collection of Miles Kington's letters, we will occasionally share some of the letters we are unearthing from within the piles of Miles' correspondence. A taster of the book to come, if you will.
Now that Christmas is just a hazy, leftovers- and chocolate-fueled memory, some of you may be harrassing your children to write belated 'thank you' letters to…12th December 2016 Thanks. Progress. Prints.
We wanted to say a big thank you to everyone who has supported My Mother, the Bearded Lady so far. We are extremely grateful and it is heartwarming to see so many people helping to make this book a reality. Caroline Kington wanted to pass on her personal thanks to each and every one of you.
The book has had 58 pledges so far and acheived 36% of the funding it needs, which is pretty good and puts…
These people are helping to fund My Mother, the Bearded Lady: The Selected Letters of Miles Kington.