Random House Outbid on Norman Mailer Bio; Simon & Schuster Pays Over Half a Million

mailer110708 Random House Outbid on Norman Mailer Bio; Simon & Schuster Pays Over Half a Million David Rosenthal at Simon & Schuster announced today that he will be publishing a biography of Norman Mailer written by the late author’s literary executor and longtime friend Michael Lennon. The book was sold at auction by Boston-based lawyer Ike Williams, who recently sold the memoirs of Mr. Mailer’s widow, Norris Church, to Mr. Mailer’s old editor at Random House. There were reportedly seven houses interested, with several offering advances worth more than half a million dollars.

Random House, Mr. Mailer’s publisher starting in 1984, was interested in the book but was not willing to pay as much for it as Simon & Schuster. David Ebershoff, who edited Mailer’s last few books, declined to comment.

Mr. Lennon will have access to a trove of letters that Mr. Mailer wrote over the course of his life, and has secured the full cooperation of the Mailer estate. He is quoted in a press release as saying, "I have been collecting material for this biography almost from the beginning of our relationship. Beginning in 2003, Norman did a series of in-depth interviews with me on his life and work with the clear sense that the historical record had to be preserved. These interviews, along with others with his widow Norris and other family and friends will be essential to my effort."