Scotland’s Stirling Publishing, the independent house in Edinburgh run by the author and poet Tabatha Stirling, is to publish the controversial book by the British journalist Julie Burchill that was dropped by Hachette subsidiary Little, Brown last December after a series of anti-Islamic tweets by the author. Its decision comes as the debate continues about ‘cancel culture’ and freedom of speech.
Welcome to the Woke Trials: How #Identity Killed Progressive Politics was due to be published by Little, Brown imprint Constable but was cancelled following the tweets. Constable MD Charlie King said: “While there is no legal definition of hate speech in the UK, we believe that Julie’s comments on Islam are not defensible from a moral or intellectual standpoint, that they crossed a line with regard to race and religion, and that her book has now become inextricably linked with those views.”
Stirling describes the book as “a characteristically entertaining analysis of the continuing and disturbing phenomenon of #woke
culture, written with the curious blend of sophistication and vulgarity that has made Julie Burchill a household name.”
It is, the publisher says, “the book on cancel culture they tried to cancel’, adding: “Stirling is committed to free speech and unafraid to publish provocative but necessary voices.” It bought world rights in the title from The Hamilton Agency in London.
Stirling explains that in 2013, Julie Burchill wrote a mischievous piece in the Observer in defence of her friend, [the journalist] Suzanne Moore. Burchill hadn’t anticipated the vitriolic reaction that her words would provoke. She was pursued by the outrage mob, and there were even calls in the House of Commons for her to be sacked.
Seven years later Burchill – “the dark star of Fleet Street” – was back with a column in a national newspaper and a book deal with a major corporate publisher. But it wasn’t long before the outrage mob returned.
The UK’s Free Speech Union spoke out in Burchill’s defence, and Stirling concludes: “Welcome to the Woke Trials is part memoir and part indictment of what happened to Burchill between then and now.”