Ebury Press has acquired a "ground-breaking" study of depression by science writer Alex Riley at auction.
Promising a "definitive account" of depression, A Cure for Darkness chronicles the story of its treatment, from the German psychiatrists in the late 19th Century through the Prozac revolution to a possible future of digital therapists and psychedelic remedies.
It also stems from personal experience of the disease. In 2015 the author embarked on an exploration of the illness after being diagnosed with major depression and discovered a deeper history of the disease in his own family.
According to Ebury, the book combines a "profoundly intimate and deeply moving account" of the author's personal experiences with "insightful investigation" into the evolution of mental health therapies, as well as the new horizons of treatment.
Robyn Drury, commissioning editor for Ebury Press, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights from Carrie Plitt at Felicity Bryan Associates at auction on the eve of the Frankfurt Book Fair.
She said: "This is a brilliant, important book written by a compelling and gifted writer – the kind of book that every editor dreams of publishing."
A Cure for Darkness developed from an article its 27-year-old author wrote for The Open Notebook about managing a career in science writing while living with chronic mental illness. Riley, who has a master’s in biological science and previously worked for the National History Museum, commented: "I am delighted that A Cure for Darkness has found a home at Ebury, an imprint with a history of bestselling and ground-breaking non-fiction, and with Robyn Drury who instantly understood the book.
"The story of the treatment of depression is a fascinating tale and much of it remains untold. With help from Robyn and her colleagues at Ebury, I hope that this book and my own story will find many readers, reaching people who might find comfort or confidence in their own mental illness."
Ebury Press will publish in hardback, e-book and audio in early 2020.