Artist Damien Hirst plans autobiography

Controversial artist Damien Hirst has signed up Rolling Stone Keith Richards' ghost-writer to work on his autobiography.

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The book, due to be published by Viking Penguin next year, will follow Hirst's rise to fame which has seen him become of the country's wealthiest artists.

He said: "I'm really pleased to be working with Penguin on my autobiography. They are a very cool and creative publisher with a huge amount of energy and enthusiasm. They care about all their readers from top to bottom and are not afraid of pushing the boundaries."

Co-writer James Fox, who worked with Richards on his 2010 best-seller Life, said: "This promises to be a fascinating story, as told with Hirst's witty style and northern edge. As well as the well-known arc of the boy from Leeds who took on the art establishment, it will include a barely known first act - a black and hilarious account of Hirst's youth, growing up in a semi-criminal, often violent milieu, while sharing with his friends an unlikely but binding passion for art."

Publisher Venetia Butterfield said the book would be a "momentous publishing event" and the firm hopes it will repeat the recent success of Morrissey's memoirs, which proved a surprise best-seller.

Hirst, who won the Turner Prize in 1995, rose to fame as part of a group known as the Young British Artists and is probably best known for a series of works in which he preserved animals, including a shark and a sheep, in formaldehyde.

His more recent works include Verity, a 66ft (20m) bronze-plated statue of a pregnant, naked woman wielding a sword, unveiled at Ilfracombe harbour in north Devon.

A solo show at Tate Modern in London in 2012 was the most popular in the gallery's history, with around 463,000 visitors queuing to see exhibits including a diamond-encrusted human skull called For The Love Of God.

Other highlights of the show, seen by an average of almost 3,000 visitors a day, were A Thousand Years 1990 where flies emerge from maggots, eat from a rotting cow's head and die, and The Physical Impossibility Of Death In The Mind Of Someone Living where a shark is suspended in formaldehyde.

Hirst's commercial success is not always matched by critical acclaim and he has faced criticism from other artists, including fellow Turner Prize winner Grayson Perry, who said his work was "hackneyed'' and ''tatty''.

The transvestite potter said the ''phenomenally successful'' Hirst played ''a good game''.

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