Bloomsbury wins auction for MacKenzie’s medieval mystic debut

Bloomsbury wins auction for MacKenzie’s medieval mystic debut

Bloomsbury has won a two-way auction for Victoria MacKenzie’s debut novel based on the lives of two medieval mystics. 

Commissioning editor Allegra Le Fanu acquired UK and Commonwealth rights, excluding Canada, as well as audio, to two novels from Sam Copeland at Rogers, Coleridge & White. Publication is planned for early 2023, backed by a major marketing and publicity campaign. 

The first title in the deal, Thy Great Pain Have Mercy On My Little Pain, is a literary novel based on the lives of two medieval mystics, Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe. Set in 1413, it explores medieval women’s lives, the effects of grief and trauma, and the genesis of women’s writing.  

Bloomsbury said: “Julian of Norwich’s Revelations of Divine Love is the first book in English by a woman; The Book of Margery Kempe is the first autobiography in English by a man or a woman. In For Thy Great Pain Have Mercy on My Little Pain, Margery and Julian tell their stories of girlhood, motherhood, sickness, loss, doubt and belief, with MacKenzie colouring in the blanks in their fascinating histories."  

MacKenzie has won prizes including a Scottish Book Trust New Writer Award and a shortlisting for the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize, as well as being awarded writing residencies in Scotland, Finland and Australia. She teaches creative writing for the Open College of the Arts. 

Le Fanu said: “I couldn’t be more thrilled that Victoria MacKenzie has chosen Bloomsbury as the home for her extraordinary debut and her second novel. For Thy Great Pain Have Mercy on My Little Pain brings Julian and Margery to life with such verve, freshness and humanity. As a company, we were so moved by this novel, which radically cracks open the timeless and universal quandaries of girlhood, motherhood, faith and vocation.” 

MacKenzie said: “I am completely delighted that my work has found a home at Bloomsbury, and I’m honoured to be joining their incredible list of writers.  I fell in love with Julian and Margery through their books, and I hope my fictional retelling will bring their remarkable lives to new readers.” 

Copeland called it “an extraordinary” novel. He added: “It is a powerhouse; moving, exhilarating, beautiful, wise. I fell head over heels with this book, and I can’t wait for everybody else to too.”