BELIEVE it or not, there is a quieter Katie Hopkins. It’s the quieter side that the controversially outspoken columnist and commentator has revealed in Rude, her funny new book that’s part memoir and part “handbook for the modern woman”.
However, it’s still not a book that she would like her mother or her children to read. In Rude, which Katie will be talking about when she appears at the Lewes Speaking Festival on Saturday, she doesn’t hold back on her opinions or her revelations.
“It’s the first time I’ve written about me and it’s made me feel naked, over-exposed,” she tells Pique. “I’m not very good at this book lark as I’m more used to writing columns. It was the first time I’d written 75,000 words and it was very, very strange. When I wrote it, I was on my own on the computer and it was very therapeutic. All these private thoughts spilled out and then when the book came back, I thought, ‘Did I really write that?’ I seem to over-share.
“I was just being me. I have a small circle of girlfriends, around six, because you don’t need any more than that, and with them I’m just me and they know the real me, they understand the real me. That is what this book is – the me me. And I don’t regret writing it.”
The public Katie is well known, and either loved or hated. For the past decade, since she got her first taste of fame as a contestant in reality TV show The Apprentice when she famously stood down at the final hurdle because she had problems finding childcare for her children, Katie has offered her often controversial opinions in newspaper columns, on television and radio, on social media and in her public appearances.
Born in Devon, Katie, 42, attended a private convent school and studied economics at university before graduating from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, where she was unable to take up her commission because she suffered from epilepsy. Her struggles with the illness, which in one year led to so many seizures she endured 34 shoulder dislocations, are well documented, including surgery in 2016 to remove a portion of her brain. “I am no longer an epileptic,” she tweeted afterwards.
Above and main picture, top: Katie Hopkins at the Wild Honey Restaurant, Mayfair. Both pictures: © Matt Writtle 2017
Below: The cover of Rude, the new book by Katie Hopkins
Katie spent 15 years working for a global brand consultancy in the UK, Tokyo and the USA and took a break from a job in the Met Office to appear in The Apprentice.
It led to appearances on TV shows including 8 Out Of 10 Cats and Loose Women, and in the reality TV series I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! and Celebrity Big Brother. She has had her own TV chat show and radio show on LBC, which was cancelled earlier this year, and has written newspaper columns for The Sun and the Daily Mail.
Her opinions range from race to class, from mothers to migrants, from health to Trump, in a way that “does not conform to PC convention but champions the spirit of hard-working Britain”.
She takes criticism on the chin, describing herself on her website as “the only woman with shoulders broad enough to take it like a man”, despite receiving various death threats.
“That sinking feeling you get when you say something that gets people going has gone now,” she says. “I remember there used to be time when I was sitting on a TV sofa having a chitchat with someone, and afterwards I’d get in the car and come home and the whole world had blown up over something I said, and I’d think, ‘My God…’
“We’ve reached peak complaint, really, haven’t we? I really admire people who get stuck in and I support people who go for it. I think, if you don’t like it, go home and shut up.”
She is thrilled to the reaction to her book. “People are finding that it makes them laugh,” she says. “I would have respected people who said it’s blooming awful but people have been so kind about it. I’m really overwhelmed by people who like it.”
She describes the book as “a series of chapters of my feelings about the world – typical Hopkins opinions – and then all the bits before that that made me the person I am now”.
“The first line in the book is ‘I’m not a t***’,” says Katie. “That is what I am. I am not a t*** at all. I’m full of spite and malice – not really! When I go to an event, I make sure I sit down with the organiser for a coffee and a chat and afterwards they always say I’m not a t*** at all.”
Another chapter she describes as “pretty dark” is about her epilepsy, and one is on “my monumental cock-ups because we’ve all messed up and none of us is perfect”.
Another chapter exposes Katie’s sex life, including the episode in 2007 when a photograph of Katie and her husband having a “romp” in a field was published in the national press.
“My children are old enough to read the book but I don’t want to know if they do,” laughs Katie, who is married to design manager Mark Cross and is the mother of India, 13, who has autism, Poppy, 11, and eight-year-old Maximilian. “I don’t want to talk about it with them because I’m not sure it’s particularly motherly.
“That picture in the field did not go down well with my dad, and my mum – well, if she reads the book, I’ll be out of her will!”
She tries to protect her children, her parents and her sister from the media. “They don’t get brought into anything I do,” she says. “My mum and dad are very, very private and super super normal – they’ll never be that gobby type of person who appears on Big Brother.
“It’s funny though – when I say something controversial, Mum tuts and then when someone stops me in the street and says they like something, she’ll burst with pride and say, ’She’s my daughter, you know.’”
Katie is thrilled that Rude, which was published on November 7, has already gone into reprint due to demand and an audio version will be recorded at the beginning of December. She has had offers for another book, this time on the demise of Europe as she sees it, for the American market, and has just returned from the States after organising a tour of the country’s Conservative base next April.
In January, she will be travelling to South Africa to cover what she describes as “the ethnic cleansing of white farmers” for a national newspaper.
Rude by Katie Hopkins, published by Biteback Publishing, is priced £9.99. Visit bitebackpublishing.com.
Katie Hopkins appears at Lewes Speakers Festival, All Saints Centre, Friars Walk, Lewes, from 6.45-8pm on Saturday November 25. Tickets £12.50/two tickets for one talk £11 each/three or more tickets for one talk £10 each/festival pass £75/other festival passes £25-£70. Visit speakersfestivals.com.
Read our feature on Lewes Speakers Festival.