Jonathan Cape has acquired a third book from writer and neurosurgeon Henry Marsh, author of the hugely successful Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery (2014) and its follow-up Admissions: A Life in Brain Surgery (2017), both published with Weidenfeld & Nicholson.
In his new book, Marsh will venture into different territory, using neuroscience rather than surgery as a starting point for an exploration of what makes us human. He will reflect on the life of his own brain - having spent a lifetime fixing other people's - and ask what light neuroscience can shed on his past, present and future, blending the latest scientific discoveries with autobiography, storytelling and discussion about modern medicine, to create" a work of science, literature and memoir like no other".
The author said he wanted "to move away from medical memoir to explore whether neuroscience tells us anything useful about ourselves, and convey some of the profound and beautiful mystery that is our brains".
Bea Hemming, deputy publishing director, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights in theas-yet-untitled book from Julian Alexander at LAW, with a view to publishing in spring 2021.
She commented: "With Do No Harm Henry opened our eyes to the agonising highs and lows of brain surgery; in Admissions he took us deeper into his own consciousness. In this new book, he will take us deeper still inside the brain itself. All of Henry’s writing resonates with astonishing humanity, curiosity, candour and unexpected beauty, and, like his many fans, I would be happy to read him on just about any subject in the world. But I can’t wait to see what happens when he takes on perhaps the greatest subject of all: the science and mystery of the brain."
Marsh said: "It’s both exciting and daunting to join Cape, who have published so many of my literary heroes. Writing has been a very important part of my life from an early age, but until recently I only wrote for myself. I have been genuinely surprised by the worldwide success of my books."
Do No Harm and Admissions have been translated into 30 languages, and have both sold over 250,000 copies of their UK editions, the publisher said. Do No Harm was awarded the South Bank Sky Arts Award and the PEN Ackerley Prize, and was shortlisted for the Costa Biography Award, Duff Cooper Prize, Wellcome Book Prize and Guardian First Book Award.
Marsh's sales through Nielsen Bookscan's TCM total 237,792 books for £2.05m, with his highest seller Do No Harm,at just over 179,000 copies.