This year’s winner of the Financial Times/Bodley Head essay prize, Ed Posnett, has secured two book deals with Viking America and the Bodley Head.
Patrick Walsh from Conville and Walsh first sold the American and Canadian rights to Posnett’s first non-fiction book proposal, Harvest, on pre-empt to Paul Slovak at Viking America. This was followed by a second deal with Stuart Williams at the Bodley Head for the British Commonwealth and translation rights. Stuart Williams also sold the German rights on to Christian Koth at Carl Hanser Verlag.
Posnett won the FT/Bodley Head prize earlier this year for his essay "Eiderdown" which discussed the annual eiderdown harvest in Iceland, where subsistence farmers spent their nights patrolling the wild eider ducks’ nesting grounds, keeping away foxes and other predators.
It was described by Simon Schama, historian and one of the judges of the prize, as “the opposite of fluff”. He said: “It was a perfect essay with a very big subject coming out from a narrative of a small bird.”
Fellow judge Tom Weldon, c.e.o. of Penguin Random House, said: “This was an exotic gem that combined nature writing with history and reportage. It also told me about something I knew nothing about.”
The essay formed part of a larger project which has resulted in the book Harvest. In this book, Posnett investigates relationships between “unusual” human communities all over the world and the small natural harvests which sustain them. This includes studies of vegetable ivory farmers in Peru, sea silk harvesters in Sicily who weave cloth from material made by giant shells, and Tibetan gleaners who collect the wool moulted annually by wild yak on the high plains of Tibet.
Harvest will be published in the UK in 2017.