Lord Rothermere is to meet with biographer Sally Taylor this week to discuss the book about his late father’s life that contains personal details he would prefer were not published at this stage.
And although Taylor is prepared to rewrite parts of the manuscript that "might cause pain to the family", she insists that she’s not a muckraker.
"I’m not in the business of pulling anybody’s pants down and writing about it. I’m no Kitty Kelley," she said.
The eagerly awaited book, the final part of a trilogy about the Daily Mail commissioned by Lord Rothermere’s father Vere, has been finished for eight months, but remains unpublished, much to the author’s dismay.
It was written with Vere Rother-mere’s co-operation and provides an insight into his private life, his marriage to former actress Patricia, known as Bubbles, and his affair with Korean-born Maiko Lee, whom he later married.
The present Lord Rothermere is known to be unhappy about the personal details of his father’s life although the main focus of the book, which covers the history of the Daily Mail, is the driving force of the partnership between Vere and the late Sir David English on the development of the paper.
Taylor interviewed nearly 300 past and present Mail executives and it took her three-and-a-half years to produce the 140,000-word tome.
"I personally think to delay the book very long will kill it. The book is uneven. By its very nature it has to be. I was straddling so many different strands, personal and family matters, business affairs and, of course, journalists of the Daily Mail. But I think I have caught David and Vere, David more than Vere who was tricky to get on the page.
"I had to tell a lot of personal things. I would be very sensitive to anything that was going to cause the family pain.
"For better or for worse, whether I have called it right or wrong, a lot of people want to read this book. It’s the story of their lives’ work. I need a decision either way as, at the moment, it’s ruining my life. You find yourself fighting tooth and nail for your book."
Lord Rothermere’s spokesman, Vyvyan Harmsworth, said there were no personal details in the book that hadn’t already been published elsewhere. "It’s just a matter of timing. Jonathan feels it’s just a little too soon after his father’s death."
By Philippa Kennedy