Headline has acquired a "feminist" Victorian crime series by journalist Kaite Welsh, about a "trailblazing" female doctor-turned-detective.
The series features medical student Sarah Gilchrist, who has "fled" London to join the University of Edinburgh's medical school in 1882 - the first year it admits women. The plot follows her descent into Edinburgh’s "murky underworld of bribery, brothels and body snatchers" after a patient turns up in the university dissecting room as "a battered corpse".
The deal for The Wages of Sin marks publishing director Sarah Savitt's first acquisition for Headline. She acquired British Commonwealth rights to the novel plus two further novels featuring Sarah Gilchrist from Laura Macdougall at Tibor Jones & Associates.
Savitt said: "The Wages of Sin is an absolute treat of a novel – an irresistible read with a fantastic heroine, beautifully drawn setting, fascinating insights into what it was like to study medicine as a woman at that time, and brilliant glimpses of the early suffragette movement. Kaite Welsh is an exciting new voice in historical crime, and I’m thrilled to be working with her. It’s exactly what I love to read and publish – smart, page-turning, feminist – and I couldn’t be happier that this is my first new acquisition for Headline."
Macdougall added: "Sarah and Headline showed great enthusiasm for The Wages of Sin from the very start, and I’m thrilled Kaite has found such a brilliant editor and publisher here in the UK."
Welsh is an Edinburgh-based journalist and critic and the literature officer at Creative Scotland. She writes a weekly column for the Daily Telegraph and makes frequent appearances on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour. She was included on the Independent on Sunday’s 2015 Rainbow List, which recognises the 100 most influential LGBTI people in the UK.
Welsh said: "The idea first came to me when I was studying at Edinburgh and having lectures in the old medical buildings. Seeing a plaque to Sophia Jex-Blake, one of the first women to study medicine there, made me want to learn more about these courageous, trailblazing women and I'm delighted to be working with Headline to tell their stories."
The Wages of Sin will be published on the Headline Review imprint in spring 2017.