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Manilla Press to publish ‘courageous’ memoir by Lord Simon Woolley

Manilla Press, the literary imprint of Bonnier Books UK, has acquired the inspirational and courageous memoir by House of Lords member Lord Simon Woolley.

Margaret Stead, Publisher of Manilla Press, acquired UK & Commonwealth (excl. Canada) rights.

Soar is a story of courage and commitment, of perseverance and remaining positive despite the challenges of institutional racism. It is about becoming a father and honouring your heritage. Most of all, it is about being your own role model, when no others have been available to you.

Simon Woolley is a member of the House of Lords, the first Black man to head an Oxbridge college, and a policy changemaker who has the ear of prime ministers and the future king. But this is a lord who wants to shake up the establishment; an outsider who knows how important it is to bring underrepresented voices to the table.

Born in Hinckley Leicestershire in 1961, Woolley was raised by loving white foster parents on the impoverished St Matthew’s Estate in Leicester. Young Simon soon learnt the value of money as an enterprising ticket tout; about politics while waiting in line at the barbers; and about racism as one of the few Black children in the neighbourhood. The desire to make the world better was awakened during a trip to South America, where he saw revolutionary politics first-hand, and discovered how activism could change people’s lives. Inspired, he co-founded Operation Black Vote in 1996, credited with encouraging hundreds of thousands of Black men and women to exercise their right to vote over the past 25 years.

Margaret Stead said: ‘Simon Woolley is one of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met. He is passionate, determined, courageous, charismatic and very funny. We’re so proud to be publishing his powerful and uplifting memoir, Soar, at Manilla Press.’

Simon Woolley said: ‘Everyone has a story to tell, often filled with highs and lows, extremely funny, and desperately sad. This is mine. I’m delighted to share my journey and hope it might inspire people like me, choose from the list: council house kid, adopted, black, initially not well educated. Above all, I want to share the skills I’ve learned that others can use to change our world. I would love my personal story to inspire a generation of change makers.’

Lord Simon Woolley co-founded Operation Black Vote in 1996, and was elevated to the House of Lords in 2019. As the principal of Homerton College, Cambridge, he is the first Black man to head an Oxbridge college.

Soar: My Journey from Council Estate to House of Lords by Simon Woolley will be published in Hardback, eBook and Audio in April 2022.