Allen Lane has won Mother State, a political history of motherhood by debut author Helen Charman, in a four-way auction.
Tom Penn, publishing director at Penguin Press, bought UK and Commonwealth rights from Emma Paterson at Aitken Alexander. The title will be published in 2022.
Mother State is described as a political history of motherhood in the UK and Ireland which takes readers through a 50-year period from the rise of the alternative family to the mobilisation of mothers and wives in support of the miners’ strike; from the positioning of Margaret Thatcher as the mother of the nation to incarcerated mothers; through to a war on teenage pregnancy under New Labour, mothering in austerity Britain and into a future of digital maternal communities and assisted reproduction.
Penn said: “Helen is an exceptionally talented new voice, and Mother State is a groundbreaking, eye-opening, debate-changing first book. In exploring the institution of motherhood over the last 50 years, Helen is presenting a completely new history of social and political change in the UK and Ireland—a history, moreover, that offers new ways of thinking about our future. Her research, and her writing, are brilliantly, radically original: we're thrilled to welcome her to Allen Lane."
Charman commented: "Motherhood is a political state: it always has been. Good mothers are those who sacrifice their own lives in the service of their children; bad mothers are those who deviate from the accepted mould of class, race and sexuality, and those who retain their grasp on their pre-maternal desires: sexual, financial, personal. In Mother State, I want to disrupt that dangerous pattern by asking who is excluded from the dominant narrative and why."