John Murray buys adult non-fiction from Rosen

John Murray has acquired world rights in an adult non-fiction work about words and letters by former children's laureate Michael Rosen.

Publisher Georgina Laycock bought the title, Alphabetical: How Every Letter Tells a Story, from Charles Walker at United Agents, with plans to publish this November.

The publisher said it is a book "for everyone who loves words and language".

Laycock said: "Michael Rosen is one of my heroes and in Alphabetical he takes you on an unforgettable adventure through the history of the alphabet in 26 vivid chapters, fizzing with anecdotes and fascinating facts. Starting with the Phoenicians and how sounds first came to be written down, he races on to show how codes and nonsense poems work, pins down the strange story of 'OK', traces our three lost letters and tackles the tyranny of spelling, amongst many, many other things."

Rosen said language was an "amateur and professional passion" of his. "My family background is steeped in the serious and unserious exploration of words and I've been collecting books on the matter for years, with a particular leaning towards the odd and amazing ways in which people have played with it all," he said. "The beauty of letters is that most of the time, readers and writers ignore them yet there are so many ways we push them about and draw attention to them. I'm looking forward to putting Edward Lear, backslang, the Cockney Alphabet, Isaac Pitman, Eric Gill and all kinds of others into this book."