Broadcaster Haynes retells Greek myth for Picador

Broadcaster Haynes retells Greek myth for Picador

Picador has signed a deal with author and broadcaster Natalie Haynes to publish a retelling of the Greek myths from a woman’s perspective.

Non-fiction editorial director at the Pan Macmillan imprint, Georgina Morley, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights for Pandora’s Jar: Women in the Greek Myths by Haynes from Peter Straus at Rogers, Coleridge and White. The title is set to publish in May 2020.

“The Greek myths are one of the most important cultural foundation-stones of the modern world,” a Picador spokesperson said. “Stories of gods and monsters are the mainstay of epic poetry and Greek tragedy, from Homer to Virgil from Aeschylus to Sophocles and Euripides.  And still, today, a wealth of novels, plays and films draw their inspiration from stories first told almost three thousand years ago.  But modern tellers of Greek myth have usually been men, and have routinely shown little interest in telling women’s stories.” 

Now, “passionate classicist” Haynes seeks to redress this imbalance. Taking Greek creation myths as her starting point and then retelling the four great mythic sagas: the Trojan War, the Royal House of Thebes, Jason and the Argonauts, Heracles, she “puts the female characters on equal footing with their menfolk”. The result is described as “a vivid and powerful account of the deeds – and misdeeds - of Hera, Aphrodite, Athene and Circe”.

Haynes writes for the Guardian, and the Independent, is a regular contributor to BBC Radio 4 and has judged various prizes including the 2013 Man Booker Prize. She has written two novels including The Children of Jocasta, inspired by the Oedipus myth, published by Mantle last year. A fourth series of her show, Natalie Haynes Stands Up for the Classics, will be broadcast on the channel later this year.

She said: “The women of Greek myth have been overlooked for too long: I can’t wait to put them back where they belong, alongside their menfolk as equals. I have been looking forward to writing this book for as long as I can remember and I couldn't be happier to be writing it for Picador.”

Morley said: “I’ve been a sucker for a Greek myth since reading Roger Lancelyn Green’s Tales of the Greek Heroes at primary school, but I’ve been longing – for decades – for someone to write about them from a female perspective. I’m absolutely delighted that Natalie Haynes is now doing just that.  Her passionate advocacy for Classics and her witty, lively prose promise a book that will educate and delight in equal measure.”