Re:Martin’s new Patrick Moore Biog

Forums General Discussion Martin’s new Patrick Moore Biog Re:Martin’s new Patrick Moore Biog


Posted by Martin Mobberley at 15:39 on 2014 Jan 05

I will only be contributing one post to this thread, simply because the forum is not a place for advertising my book, and there is no such thing as bad publicity, as any author will tell you! All discussion on a publicly visible forum simply increases the book’s Google presence and therefore its sales!First, I’d like to thank those people who have sent me e-mails saying how much they have enjoyed reading the book since its publication in August. These e-mails now exceed 100 in number and originate mostly from BAA members of long standing, mainly those born in the 1950s, and those who knew Patrick well. The general response has been very similar in tone to the JBAA review by Dr Mitton and the Cloudy Nights thread on the subject.Writing a book about such a popular figure was never going to be easy, but I had plenty of advice. Most of it, from experienced authors, warned me that I would be very tempted to write a hagiography (simply hero worship) and leave out the negative stuff. But this was never my plan. Having spent more than ten years unearthing everything about Patrick there was no way I would be shoving the bad stuff under the carpet. It would be a waste of a decade of work and others would soon reveal the information anyway. I knew that others were planning biographies of Patrick too, so mine had to be released promptly. No-one would spend a decade on a project just to sit back and see less comprehensive ones be published first! Even in Patrick’s lifetime a few (such as Richard Baum and Ewen Whitaker) had dared disclose flaws in Patrick’s stories, such as the murky Mare Orientale business…..After their paper was published in the JBAA Patrick issued an apology of sorts on TV and in a JBAA letter….To omit everything negative of this type would make the biography of little historical value.Patrick will always be a hero figure to me and a man who shaped my life, but to deny he had serious flaws would make my book no more than a fan-worship book, with no real substance. It is clear from Dr Simon Mitton’s review of ‘RAF Blazer’ that he feared it might be just that…..a hagiography, but clearly he was very pleased to see that it was, instead, a comprehensive account and I had not chickened out from writing the truth, whoever it annoyed. As we all know, Patrick always spoke his mind, and I have done the same with the ‘RAF Blazer’ book.One term that keeps occurring in e-mails I have received is that this must have been a horrendous task to get the mixture right, but that ‘you have got that tricky balance dead right’. It was not easy, and the 330,000 wordswere read and re-read several dozen times before I was happy. Even so, a few other authors did tell me: "If you say anything negative about Patrick, anything at all, there will be a witch hunt and you will be lynched by the baying mob, who will have no interest in the facts….." One astronomy author told me he would never write anything negative about Patrick as "I would surely be beheaded with a meat cleaver…" Fair enough, but the baying mob has not appeared, just a daily influx of ‘thankyou’ e-mails. If a few people would prefer a book that was 100% positive about Patrick, and omitted almost everything prior to the late 1950s, then Patrick’s own book, in ’80 not out’ and ‘The autobiography’ format, is still available. The reader has a choice! Indeed, there isanother option too….the critics can write their own biography of Patrick if they prefer. I have already had half a dozen e-mails (and some letters) insisting I must write a follow-up book! Perhaps I can quote from a personal letter received from Dr Allan Chapman last week, who was a good friend of Patrick’s over many years:’Dear Martin, I really must let you know how very much I am enjoying your RAF Blazer biography of our dear late friend Sir Patrick. I think that you have struck exactly the right balance: how to write a sharp and penetratingbiography while still displaying a deep affection for the man and his fables: I did so laugh at "Tut, Tut, Naughty Patrick" regarding the RAF.’ Allan goes on to note that some of Patrick’s negative points weresimilar to those of Galileo, so he was ‘in good company’.If such a close personal friend of Patrick’s, and such a noted historian, thinks I have got the balance exactly right then I am more than happy…..Patrick’s closest friends all agree that he had some major faults, but he was such an entertainer and raconteur that it was almost impossible to dislike him, whatever he said or did!!As I say, this will be my final forum posting on this subject, but I am happy to answer (even more!) e-mails via, even if I am currently spending about six hours a day answering queriesabout telescope problems and Patrick…..Martin