Billy Connolly to publish his autobiography in October

Wednesday 24th February 2021, 4:46pm by Jay Richardson

  • Billy Connolly - Windswept & Interesting: My Autobiography will be published in October
  • The publishers say it's "joyfully funny - stuffed full of hard-earned wisdom as well as countless digressions"
  • The comedian, who has now retired from stand-up, has been working on the book for a number of years
Photograph by Scarlett Stephenson-Connolly. Billy Connolly. Copyright: Indigo Productions.

Billy Connolly's autobiography is to be published this autumn, British Comedy Guide can reveal.

Windswept and Interesting, billed as the comic's first "full-length autobiography", will be available to buy from 14th October and published by Two Roads, an imprint of Hachette.

The publisher calls it Connolly's "story in his own words. It is joyfully funny - stuffed full of hard-earned wisdom as well as countless digressions on fishing, farting and the joys of dancing naked. It is an unforgettable, life-affirming story of a true comedy legend".

Born in a tenement flat in Glasgow in 1942, orphaned by the age of four, and a survivor of appalling abuse at the hands of his own family, Connolly became an apprentice welder in the shipyards of the River Clyde, before becoming a banjo-playing folk musician. But it was his ability to spin stories, tell jokes and hold an audience in the palm of his hand that established him as a comedian without peer, with his legendary appearance on Michael Parkinson's chat show in 1975 propelling him from cult hero to national star.

Speaking about his new book, Connolly says: "It's the first time I've done this. Other people have written about me - or for me - but this time it's just my own life in my own words."

The book's title comes from an anecdote from his youth Connolly has recounted to his wife, the clinical psychologist and Not The Nine O'Clock News star Pamela Stephenson, in her 2001 biography Billy, and in a 2009 episode of her Shrink Rap interview series, which aired on More4 in the UK.

"I didn't know I was windswept and interesting until somebody told me" he explained to her. "It was a friend who was startlingly exotic himself. He'd just come back from Kashmir and was all billowy shirt and Indian beads. I had long hair and a beard and was swishing around in electric blue flairs. He said: 'Look at you - all windswept and interesting!' I just said: 'Exactly! After that, I simply had to maintain my reputation..."

Work on the book proceeded "slowly" the 78-year-old stand-up revealed on the ITV documentary Billy Connolly: It's Been A Pleasure (pictured) in December.

"I remember I sat down to write a novel once and never got past page two" admitted the comic, who confirmed his retirement from live performance in March. "Writers impress the hell out of me. Especially comedians who write as well. I don't know how they do that."

Connolly has written four memoirs already and been the subject of two biographies by Stephenson. He has also appeared on This Is Your Life, Who Do You Think You Are? and Desert Island Discs, twice.

He published Tall Tales and Wee Stories with Two Roads in 2019, a collection of his best routines, set down in print for the first time.

Publisher Nick Davies says: "National Treasure... 'Welder Statesman'... Living Legend... there are few people who inspire such warmth and affection among audiences worldwide. I can't think of a better way to follow the phenomenal success of Tall Tales and Wee Stories than with Billy's long-awaited autobiography. It is a wise, heartfelt, opinionated and hugely funny book. And it has been one of the great pleasures of my career to work on it."

It's Been A Pleasure also featured a sequence with Stephenson interviewing her husband and him reflecting on his renewed love of art.

"Drawing has given me a new lease of life, I managed to get pictures together and people like them which surprises me and amazes and delights me" he says. "It is a lovely thing to do with yourself."

Last week, Castle Fine Art Galleries in Glasgow announced that they would be showcasing further paintings from Connolly's Born On A Rainy Day collection.


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Billy Connolly - Windswept & Interesting: My Autobiography

Billy Connolly - Windswept & Interesting: My Autobiography

In his first full-length autobiography, comedy legend and national treasure Billy Connolly reveals the truth behind his "windswept and interesting" life. Born in a tenement flat in Glasgow in 1942, orphaned by the age of 4 and a survivor of appalling abuse at the hands of his own family, Billy's life is a remarkable story of success against all the odds.

Billy found his escape first as an apprentice welder in the shipyards of the River Clyde. Later he became a folk musician - a 'rambling man' - with a genuine talent for playing the banjo. But it was his ability to spin stories, tell jokes and hold an audience in the palm of his hand that truly set him apart.

As a young comedian Billy broke all the rules. He was fearless and outspoken - willing to call out hypocrisy wherever he saw it. But his stand-up was full of warmth, humility and silliness too. His startling, hairy 'glam-rock' stage appearance - wearing leotards, scissor suits and banana boots - only added to his appeal.

It was an appearance on Michael Parkinson's chat show in 1975 - and one outrageous story in particular - that catapulted Billy from cult hero to national star. TV shows, documentaries, international fame and award-winning Hollywood movies followed. Billy's pitch-perfect stand-up comedy kept coming too - for over 50 years, in fact - until a double diagnosis of cancer and Parkinson's disease brought his remarkable live performances to an end. Since then he has continued making TV shows, creating extraordinary drawings... and writing.

Windswept & Interesting is Billy's story in his own words. It is joyfully funny - stuffed full of hard-earned wisdom as well as countless digressions on fishing, farting and the joys of dancing naked. It is an unforgettable, life-affirming story of a true comedy legend.

First published: Thursday 14th October 2021

  • Publisher: Two Roads
  • Pages: 400
  • Catalogue: 9781529318265

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