Viking buys McCarten on Churchill’s ‘Darkest Hour’

Viking buys McCarten on Churchill’s ‘Darkest Hour’

Viking has acquired rights to Darkest Hour by Anthony McCarten, a non-fiction narrative history of Winston Churchill’s wartime leadership. The book is being written after the film - starring Gary Oldman as Churchil - was commissioned, providing a fuller context for the period in which the film is based.

Joel Rickett at Viking, who acquired the book, called it an "explosive non-fiction thriller" and its author "a creative force and a writer of the highest calibre". McCarten is the screenwriter for the film; he also wrote the screenplay for "The Theory of Everything". 

Darkest Hour, publishing in hardback this October, begins in 1940 as Churchill, days after becoming prime minister, faces a defining decision: explore a negotiated peace treaty with Nazi Germany, or stand firm to fight for the ideals and freedom of a nation.

A Penguin paperback of the book will follow on late December 2017 to tie with cinematic release. The film, being directed by Joe Wright and also starring Stephen Dillane, Lily James, Ben Mendelsohn and Kristin Scott Thomas, will be released by Universal on Thanksgiving (24th November) in the US and Boxing Day (26th December) in the UK.

Rickett acquired UK & Commonwealth rights from Karolina Sutton and Jennifer Joel at Curtis Brown/ICM. North American rights have gone to Jonathan Jao at HarperCollins US. Mondadori pre-empted Italian rights, Spanish and Brazilian auctions were won by Critica/Planeta, European Portuguese rights were pre-empted by Penguin Random House, and the German auction was won by Ullstein.

McCarten said: "In May 1940 Winston Churchill faced some of the darkest hours that he, or his nation, or the world, had ever faced. What he did, what he said, and what he eventually decided in those terrifying days changed the fate of the world. But how he made the right decision in the end has never, to my mind, been satisfactorily told. It is a bigger, scarier, more secretive and more altogether human story than has previously been allowed. I am delighted that so many fine publishers have joined forces, in grand coalition, to help me share it."