Hodder acquires WW2 family history in five-way auction

Hodder acquires WW2 family history in five-way auction

Hodder & Stoughton has acquired To War with the Walkers, a new social history of World War Two, following a five-way auction.

The book, an account of the six Walker siblings, written by historian and family descendent Annabel Venning, was won by Maddy Price at Hodder & Stoughton. British and Commonwealth rights were acquired from Patrick Walsh at PEW Literary to publish in hardback, trade paperback and e-book in Autumn 2019 to coincide with the 80th anniversary of the start of the Second World War. 

The book chronicles the lives of the two sisters and four brothers who, young at the start of the war, through twists and turns of fate, all miraculously survived near-death experiences: Ruth Walker, then working as a nurse at St Thomas’s, was nearly buried alive in a bomb blast; Bee Walker tragically lost her husband in an airplane crash; Peter Walker was thought to be dead and was thrown onto the corpse pile in a POW camp; Harold Walker, a surgeon, spent weeks in a coma after a bomb blast; Walter Walker fought with the Gurkhas against the Japanese in Burma; and Edward Walker fought with the Indian army.

In this way, Venning, historian, author, journalist and the granddaughter of Walter Walker, weaves her own family’s diverse experiences with the wider narrative of the war to create a touching and gripping new social history. The book is the product of 10 years of research, comprising archival and first-hand familial accounts.

Venning said: “Uncovering the experiences of Harold, Bee, Peter, Edward, Ruth and my grandfather Walter has been a fantastic journey. I hope that people will see reflections of their own family stories in mine, and that my book will take readers to the less travelled corners of the Second World War. I am excited that my book has found the perfect home with Hodder.”

Price added: “Annabel’s family history is remarkable. Each of the six Walkers’ stories is fascinating but combined they take on a wider meaning and paint a new picture of the war. And the fact that all six made it through the war – often rescuing each other from quite terrifying situations – makes for an incredibly powerful read. I am thrilled to be publishing this book.”