Sceptre has triumphed in an eight-way bidding war to win the highly anticipated Fleabag: The Scriptures, the book of the BBC comedy series by its creator and star Phoebe Waller-Bridge, The Bookseller can reveal. Publication is scheduled for November.
Editorial director Emma Herdman bought British Commonwealth rights excluding Canada from the United Talent Agency and Independent Talent Group, a month after a heated auction was reported to be underway for the annotated script - and three years after Herdman apparently contacted Waller-Bridge's agents. The single-book deal, thought to be worth upwards of £500,000, was concluded after an eight-way auction between publishers. Sceptre declined to comment on financial figures.
North American rights are with Ballantine, an imprint of Random House. The book will be published simultaneously in the UK and US on 5th November 2019, retailing at £20 in hardback with e-book also be available.
Fleabag: The Scriptures features new writing by Waller-Bridge alongside the complete TV scripts of seasons one and two from the BBC Three series, including previously unseen stage directions. The publication will be backed by a “creative and ambitious” marketing and publicity campaign, Sceptre said. Waller-Bridge will do publicity in London but there are no other details available on the campaign.
Sceptre released a short section of the script with the announcement which reads: “Her coat falls open. She only has her bra on underneath. She pulls out the little sculpture of the woman with no arms. It sits on her lap. Two women. One real. One not. Both with their innate femininity out."
Waller-Bridge’s "Fleabag" began life as a one-woman show at Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2013. "Fleabag" was adapted into a critically acclaimed BBC Three television series in 2013, for which Waller-Bridge won a BAFTA for Best Female Performance in a Comedy Program. The second season premiered earlier this year, earning 11 Primetime Emmy Award nominations, including Best Comedy Series and Best Actress for Waller-Bridge. This autumn, Waller-Bridge will reprise her role in a sold-out, 30-date run of "Fleabag", one-woman comedic play at Wyndham’s Theatre in London. On 12th September, National Theatre Live will broadcast the show live to cinemas internationally.
Last week it was revealed that Nick Hern Books will publish a new edition of the play "Fleabag" on 29th August to coincide with the show’s upcoming West End run, six years after it was originally published.
Herdman said: “I first emailed Phoebe’s agents three years ago, after watching season one of Fleabag, and I’ve been pestering them ever since. I was sure that Phoebe would be a perfect fit for the Sceptre list – a boundary-breaking, whip-smart, hugely creative writer. Happily, Fleabag: The Scriptures showcases all we’ve loved about Fleabag, but also proves that what we’ve seen on our screens is only the tip of the iceberg.
“The reading experience, with the stage directions and Phoebe’s original work, is just as rich as you’d imagine. Fleabag: The Scriptures will make for a perfect Christmas gift, but this is also a work that will stand the test of time. I know that readers will treasure this piece of cultural history and fall madly in love with Fleabag all over again.”
As well as "Fleabag", Waller-Bridge has worked on other TV projects including adapting “Killing Eve” for BBC America, based on Luke Jennings’ novel Codename Villanelle (John Murray). The TV series has since been nominated for a Golden Globe, nine Emmys this year and won the Gotham Award for Breakthrough Series as well as three BAFTAs. Waller-Bridge has also recently written for the latest James Bond film following a personal request from lead actor Daniel Craig.
The agencies involved declined to name the individual agents who negotiated the deal but Alec Drysdale is believed to represent Waller-Bridge at Independent Talent Group.