Hodder Children’s Books will publish a “magical realist Shakespearean series” by hip hop artist Akala following a “hotly contested” auction.
The Hachette Children’s Group imprint has agreed a two-book contract with the Akala, who is also an artist and writer.
Anne McNeil, senior publisher for Hodder Children’sBooks, Quercus Children’s Books, Wren & Rook and Enid Blyton Entertainment, secured world rights in a two-book deal through Adrian Sington of Kruger Cowne.
Book one, The Dark Lady, will publish in hardback in March 2019, with the paperback following in June 2019. Book two will publish in 2020.
The Dark Lady is set in a “magical realist Shakespearean time which brings to life the vibrant, visceral, violent and adventurous world of the Renaissance”. Inspired by 'The Dark Lady', who is alluded to in the playwright's sonnets 127–152, Akala’s novels described as “creatively and stylistically unique”.
McNeil said: “To have signed the Dark Lady series with Akala is of monumental significance for me. Steeped as he is in Shakespeare, this writer will bring a unique eye-view to one of our most important cultural icons. I have admired Akala for years – as a spokesperson for a generation, and a creative tour de force, he will reach readers and pierce their preconceptions in a way which is set to change the literary landscape.”
Akala said: “I’ve hardly made a secret of my passion for history and interest in Shakespeare’s work. Having spent a great deal of time over the past eight years re-inventing a number of Shakespeare’s greatest works via The Hip-hop Shakespeare Company, I am now incredibly excited to start building an alternate Shakespearean Universe around one of the most mysterious and elusive figures to appear in the bard’s pages.”