Oneworld will publish Inheritance: The Forgotten History of Mary Davies by historian Leo Hollis.
Editorial director Sam Carter acquired UK and Commonwealth English rights from Nicola Barr at The Bent Agency. Publication is scheduled for May 2021.
Inheritance: The Forgotten History of Mary Davies tells the story of a young, wealthy English widow. One day in 1701, Mary woke in Paris to find a man in her bed; within hours they were married in "uncertain circumstances".
Mary refused to acknowledge the marriage and fled back to London, but her new husband started to treat her considerable estate as his own.
In 1703, the confusion around the legitimacy of the marriage and ownership of the estate culminated in a trial. According to Hollis, the jury's ruling on the marraige "changed Mary’s life, her family’s fortunes and transformed London’s history".
Hollis' book is said to tell the origin story of the Dukes of Westminster, prominent landowners in London's West End whose estate today runs from Mayfair to Pimlico.
Hollis commented: "I am thrilled to be working with Sam and the team at Oneworld. They are a terrific independent house, that publishes with passion, and the perfect berth for this book."
Carter added: "Leo Hollis is a great excavator of lost details of history. We’re delighted to be working him as he uncovers the life of Mary Davies, a woman whose land destroyed her but made London."
Hollis is the senior editor at independent publisher Verso and the author of two history books, The Phoenix (W&N, 2009) and The Stones of London (W&N, 2011).