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Sir Ian McKellen returns advance for painful memoir

Published 04/04/2016

Sir Ian McKellen returns advance for painful memoir
Sir Ian McKellen returns advance for painful memoir

Sir Ian McKellen decided against writing an autobiography

Sir Ian McKellen scrapped plans to write a memoir, because he discovered reliving old memories too painful.

The Lord of the Rings star signed a $1.4 million (£1 million) book deal with publishers at Hodder & Stoughton last year (15), but he has since cancelled the contract and returned the money.

"I put nine months aside to do it, and I got a very handsome advance," he said on Sunday (03Apr15) at the Oxford Literary Festival. "Then I sent the money back."

"It was a bit painful," he continued. "I didn't want to go back into my life and imagine things that I hadn't understood so far. The privacy of my life, I don't quite understand myself, and it has nothing to do with what I do for a living. So there you go, I'm sorry."

The untitled book was expected to include details about how Sir Ian agonised over his decision to come out as a homosexual in 1988, amid fears it would damage his career.

Last year (15), the 76-year-old opened up about a childhood relationship he had with a female, revealing he wanted to include their love letters in the book, but the girl, named Wendy, burned them when she married.

"I had a straight experience (once)...," he told U.S. chat show The View. "I must tell you about Wendy... She was nine and I was eight and we held hands by the sea and such, and then we parted after the holiday and we wrote letters to each other."

To Ian's surprise he ran into Wendy outside London's National Theatre last year and inquired about the love notes, but was saddened to hear they had long been discarded.

"I was standing at the National Theatre the other day, 64 years after this event, and this little old lady, I could see her coming to me," he continued. "I was thinking, 'Oh dear, what does she want?' and she said, 'Hello Ian, I'm Wendy'... I said, 'We were rather in love, weren't we?' She said, 'Oh yes', and I said, 'Didn't we write letters to each other?' and she said, 'Yes, we did'.

"I was thinking of writing my memoirs so I said, 'Do you have any of the letters that I wrote to you?' She said, 'Oh yes, I kept them, but then I burned them on the day of my marriage,' so God knows what was in those letters!"

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