24 hour pre-empt from 4th Estate for playwright's 'luminous' MND memoir

24 hour pre-empt from 4th Estate for playwright's 'luminous' MND memoir

4th Estate will publish the "remarkable" memoir from playwright Joe Hammond, who has motor neurone disease, following a pre-empt within 24 hours of submission.

Helen Garnons-Williams, publishing director at 4th Estate, pre-empted world rights to Hammond's "luminous and revelatory" memoir, A Short History of Falling, from Will Francis at Janklow & Nesbit, offering within 24 hours of receiving the proposal. 4th Estate will publish the title in September 2019.

Hammond was diagnosed with motor neurone disease (also known as ALS) last year and A Short History of Falling tells of his experience of living with – and dying of – the disease, and what it feels like to be leaving his young family behind, 4th Estate said.

"I know the glass is thickening and the figures in my life are blurring," the blurb reads. "I know this is happening and I know how it finishes. And I know that, despite all this, the end of my life is becoming the best of my life; not the worst."

Garnons-Williams said: "Like The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and When Breath Becomes Air, Joe’s memoir defies categorisation and is an unforgettable reading experience. He is an incredible writer, finding light and even humour in the darkest of places and creating something truly beautiful and profound. We are so proud to be publishing this remarkable book."

Hammond, a father-of-two based in south London, said: "I look at the stellar record of memoir publication at 4th Estate and know I’m with the right people. I’m profoundly grateful that Helen moved so decisively and very excited by what we’re going to achieve together."

The playwright wrote about living with motor neurone disease in the Guardian in September, which was followed by an associated fundraiser for living costs. 

He took part in the Royal Court Studio Writers' Group in 2012, having previously been mentored by the theatre and BBC. His debut London production 'Where the Mangrove Grows' played at Theatre503 in south London six years ago and was later published by Bloomsbury.

For rights enquiries, contact tara.hiatt@harpercollins.co.uk.