Jilly Cooper is one of the country's best-loved authors, but it's a lesser known fact that her husband Leo is also a big name in the publishing world. Reporter Sian Davies went to the couple's Bisley home to find out what motivated publisher Leo to switch sides and record his most entertaining memories in his autobiography - All My Friends Will Buy It - released this week.

AFTER many years working in publishing and spent married to best-selling author Jilly Cooper, Leo Cooper has finally switched sides and written his memoirs.

One half of Bisley's best known couple, Leo, 71, retired four years ago when he discovered he was suffering from Parkinson's Disease.

He said: "I knew what I had before I went to the doctors and I said to him I've got Parkinson's Disease."

Because of his illness Leo is unable to write, but he was determined not to let it get the better of him.

"I fought it by using a tape recorder to record everything that I wanted to write," he said.

"I wouldn't say that I have necessarily beaten it but I have chosen to fight it."

Before Leo discovered he had the illness, he led an active life - so getting Parkinson's meant a huge change for him.

"I feel angry about not being able to jump about, but I'm determined not to go down gently," he said.

Despite his illness, Leo still runs the village cricket club and is involved in the Royal British Legion.

After 40 years working on the other side of publishing, Leo thought he would give writing a go too.

"I had so much material inside me and so many good stories and after years of helping people to get their material out I thought I could do it too - so I did," he added.

"I'd been in publishing for 40 years and I'd never seen the business from the other side but I'd been behaving like an author for a while.

"People who write books are themselves generally egotists and self obsessed and I am too because my book is all about me."

Leo's autobiography, All My Friends Will Buy It, took eight months to write with the help of Mandy Williams who typed the book's manuscript.

He said: "The book was really written in the middle of the night - tossing and turning trying to record what I had remembered."

After working for other publishers for 10 years and being sacked twice, Leo decided he was unemployable and should go it alone.

"They didn't do things the way I thought they should be done and I thought I could do better," he said.

In 1968, he set up his own publishing company specialising in military literature - an interest that derived from his Second World War upbringing and his military service in Kenya during early 1950s.

Over the years Leo has published more than 1,000 books so has many interesting tales to tell in All My Friends Will Buy It - A Bottlefield Tour, which is out now.

* All My Friends Will Buy It - A Bottlefield Tour is published by Spellmount priced at £20. Read Sian's review of the book in the next week's SNJ.