Canongate is to publish Mick Kitson's second novel, Featherweight, which is based on his family history.
Commissioning editor Jo Dingley acquired world rights, including audio, to the novel from Cathryn Summerhayes at Curtis Brown.
Described as "a story of overcoming all the odds", Featherweight is set in 19th-century England and based on real characters and events.
The synopsis explains: "Annie Perry is born beside the coal-muddied canals of the Black Country, at the height of the industrial revolution. The youngest in a large Romani family who cannot afford to keep her, when she is eight years old Annie is sold as a servant to the famous and feared bare-knuckle boxer Bill Perry, 'The Tipton Slasher'.
"Annie is determined to follow in Bill’s footsteps, to learn to fight for herself. A whole new world opens up for her, one of love, fortune, family and education, but also of danger. One wrong move, one misstep, and the course of her life will be changed forever."
Commenting on the deal, Dingley said: "Just like his debut, Mick’s second novel is a story about overcoming the odds, fighting back in an unfair world, and a young woman taking her destiny into her own hands. Mick’s characters are so full of spirit, so memorable, and so much fun to spend time with, I know readers are going to love Annie just as much as they loved Sal."
Kitson was born in South Wales, and studied English at university. He worked as a journalist for several years, then went on to become an English teacher. His debut novel, Sal, was published by Canongate in 2018 and won the Saltire First Book Award. he said: "After Sal, I wanted to write another adventure story. Featherweight was inspired by my own family history—or should I say the numerous myths, tales and half-truths peddled to me as a child by my beloved maternal grandmother, Molly.
"The Tipton Slasher was my great, great, great grandfather, and Annie Perry was my great grandmother who was, according to Molly and other tale-telling aunties, sold at a fair when she was seven. I conflated the two stories, set the novel in the 1840s, a period of industrial history I find fascinating, and filled it with things that interest me, like canals, prize fighting and armed robbery!"
The novel will be published in hardback in May 2021.
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