Faber and Profile Books are to publish two new Alan Bennett "Talking Heads" monologues, to be published together under the title Two Besides.
Faber and Profile Books together acquired world English rights (excluding US) from Charles Walker at United Agents. Publication of the e-book is scheduled for 8th July, followed by a hardback edition on 15th October 2020.
In An Ordinary Woman, a mother is said to "suffer the consequences when she falls for her own flesh and blood", while The Shrine introduces Lorna, the bereft partner of a dedicated biker with a surprising private life. The book features a preface by Nicholas Hytner and an introduction to each monologue by the author.
The two new monologues will be broadcast on BBC One, starting with An Ordinary Woman on 23rd June 2020. They will be available on iPlayer alongside 10 of the monologues from the original "Talking Heads" series, all performed by new actors. The new episodes star Jodie Comer, Monica Dolan, Martin Freeman, Tamsin Greig, Sarah Lancashire, Lesley Manville, Lucian Msamati, Maxine Peake, Rochenda Sandall, Kristin Scott Thomas, Imelda Staunton and Harriet Walter.
Bennett commented: "Given the opportunity to revisit the characters from 'Talking Heads' I’ve added a couple more, both of them ordinary women whom life takes by surprise. They just about end up on top and go on, but without quite knowing how. Still, they’re in good company, and at least they’ve made it into print."
Dinah Wood, editorial director for drama at Faber and associate producer for the London Theatre Company on "Talking Heads", added: "What could be a more thrilling lockdown delivery than two new Talking Heads from Alan Bennett? Masterpieces, both, like the previous and unforgettable dozen, these monologues are timeless in their concerns – love, death, sex, desire, loneliness, the ultimate unknowability of other people – but have a resonance now, as our sense of isolation is amplified. Only Alan could come up with the title Two Besides; they are absolutely to the point."
Rebecca Gray, commissioning editor at Profile, said: "It’s always a joy when Alan writes something new, and just now it’s more of a treat than ever. Never has a man written women so well! We love working with Alan, and it’s great fun to team up with our friends at Faber too."
Faber and Profile Books have been publishing Bennett in a joint partnership since 2005. Books by Bennett published in this partnership include Untold Stories (2006), The Uncommon Reader (2008), The Lady in the Van (2015), Smut (2012) and Six Poets (2015).