Viking has signed a childhood memoir by BBC sports presenter Clare Balding, paying what is believed to be around £500,000 for two books.
Penguin declined to comment on the sum paid, which was a pre-emptive deal for world rights to the two books. Viking editorial director Joel Rickett bought the books from Ivan Mulcahy at Mulcahy Conway Associates, acting on behalf of Nicola Ibison at James Grant Group. The first book, My Animals and Other Family, will be published in September 2012.
Rickett said the manuscript appeared on his desk on the afternoon of 16th June. By 9 p.m., he had made the pre-empt deal. He said: “My Animals and Other Family is Clare’s story of growing up in an unusual household where the horses took priority, the dogs looked after the children, and the Queen would drop by for breakfast. It’s tender and painfully true, full of huge characters both animal and human. The writing is magical. This is a book that will be loved by everyone.”
The book’s title is a nod to the memoir by naturalist and broadcaster Gerald Durrell, who wrote My Family and Other Animals. Balding said: “I am utterly thrilled to be joining the Penguin family, especially because it is the literary home to Gerald Durrell. This is a huge moment for me and I hope I can repay their faith in my writing ability. I can honestly say that I am more excited about this than anything that has ever happened in my working life.”
Following a career as an amateur flat jockey, Balding became the face of the BBC’s racing broadcasts in 1998, hosting events such as the Olympics, Wimbledon and Royal Ascot.