The Bees signed by HarperCollins

The Bees signed by HarperCollins

HarperCollins has pre-empted a debut novel by British playwright Laline Paull on both sides of the Atlantic.

In the UK, David Roth-Ey and Clare Reihill of 4th Estate signed rights for The Bees from Simon Trewin at WME less than 24 hours after submission, in what they described as a "major" deal.

Reihill said: "The Bees is like no other novel. Laline Paull takes us into the consciousness of a species so alien to us (unlike say the rabbit in Watership Down) and yet so crucial to our survival. All the metaphors for order, oppression and control in society are here, and yet it is also a love story."

In New York, Lee Boudreaux pre-empted North American rights for Ecco from Dorian Karchmar at WME. Iris Tupholme will publish for HarperCollins Canada.

Annemarie Blumenhagen at WME described foreign rights interest in the title as "significant".

All territories will publish in hardback in May 2014.