Profile has bought two books on ancient Rome by prominent classicist Mary Beard for a "substantial" six-figure sum.
Editor Peter Carson acquired world rights in SPQR, said to be "a major new look at 1,000 years of Roman history—not only at its astonishing rise from insignificant village in central Italy to world superpower, but also at how the Romans thought about themselves and their achievements, and why they are still important to us". The book is scheduled for publication in 2014, with "another major book" set to come out four years later. US rights have been sold to W W Norton.
The publisher denied speculation in the London Evening Standard that the book deal was worth £1m, saying the books had been bought for a six-figure sum but "a senator's advance, not an emperor's one". The deal was done directly with the author.
Beard is classics professor at Cambridge and the classics editor of the Times Literary Supplement.