Buccaneer Media has optioned the "astonishing" hotly tipped debut novel The Doll Factory by Scottish potter Elizabeth Macneal.
The historical thriller, which was scooped by Picador in February following a 14 publisher bidding war, will be turned into a drama series by the London-based production firm.
Television rights were acquired by the company responsible for ITV drama “Marcella” from associate agent Hayley Steed at Madeleine Milburn Ltd with Buccaneer Media represented by the Agency for the Performing Arts (APA). Buccaneer is led by drama producer Tony Wood who has appointed APA agent Kyle Loftus to represent the production in the US. Wood and Anna Burns will be executive producers on the project.
The Doll Factory won the 2018 Caledonia Award for an unpublished manuscript with publishing rights going to Picador for a six-figure sum in April. Following multiple offers from America, Simon & Schuster US imprint Emily Bestler Books has acquired US and Canadian rights in a “significant” two book deal, according to Macneal’s agent Madeleine Milburn. Emily Bestler Books will publish simultaneously with Pan Macmillan next year and the book will be translated into at least 26 languages overall.
Set in London 1850, the novel tells the story of Iris, an aspiring artist who works in a doll-making shop, and Silas, a reclusive collector captivated by the strange and beautiful. They meet by chance in Hyde Park during the construction of The Great Exhibition. For Iris, it is the encounter of a moment – forgotten seconds later. But for Silas the meeting marks a new beginning. He decides his life will be incomplete without her. When Iris is asked to model for Pre-Raphaelite artist Louis Frost, she agrees on the condition that he will teach her to paint, and suddenly her world expands to become a place of art and love. But Silas has only thought of one thing since meeting Iris, and his obsession is darkening.
Wood, Buccaneer Media’s c.e.o., said “This astonishing literary thriller has already created a sensation, even before publication. Competition has been huge at each step it has taken. It’s an honour to announce a collaboration with Elizabeth Macneal; she’s an amazing talent, who I am delighted to bring into the Buccaneer fold.”
MacNeal’s editor Sophie Jonathan, senior commissioning editor at Picador, said: “To read The Doll Factory is to step across a threshold into another time - into the press and panic, the elation and vivid beauty of 1850s London.
“I've never read a novel so rich in colour and texture, so to know that Elizabeth's extraordinary story and sparkling characters will be translated to screen is impossibly exciting, and who better to work that magic than Buccaneer Media."
Macneal is an author and potter based in Limehouse, East London, and previously studied at the University of East Anglia.