Virago has acquired Womb: The Inside Story of Where We All Began by Leah Hazard, to publish as its lead publication in spring 2023, following an eight-way auction.
The book is billed as "a vivid, expert and accessible account of the womb, its place in history, in medical science, and in our lives" from Hazard, the Sunday Times bestselling midwife behind the sought-after memoir Hard Pushed (Hutchinson) and podcast host of "What the Midwife Said".
Senior commissioning editor Rose Tomaszewska bought UK and Commonwealth rights from Hayley Steed at Madeleine Milburn in what was described as a "heated" auction between competing publishers. Meanwhile Denise Oswald at Ecco, HarperCollins, acquired US rights in a seven-way auction, calling the book "a game-changer that will be read for years to come".
In translation deals, Italian rights have been acquired by Ponte alle Grazie, Norwegian rights by Gyldendal, Danish rights by Grønningen 1, Romanian rights by Nemira, Lithuanian rights by Baltos Lankos and Greek rights by Metaichmio—all in pre-empts. German rights were acquired by Hoffmann & Campe and French rights were acquired by Les Arenes—both in auctions.
Spanish, Dutch, Swedish and Hungarian deals are currently ongoing, at the time of writing, with international rights being handled by Liane-Louise Smith and Georgina Simmonds at Madeleine Milburn.
Womb: The Inside Story of Where We All Began will give a multi-dimensional account of the womb, covering everything from "the so-called 'wandering womb' of Ancient Greece to the uterine transplants of today; from the hidden pains of endometriosis to the under-researched impacts of hysterectomies; from the state of the womb in pregnancy to its role in sexual pleasure; and its potential future as biobags in laboratories".
Hazard, who is a midwife working in Scotland, said: "I’m delighted to join forces with Virago, Ecco and the rest of my international publishing partners as I write this love letter to one of the human body’s most miraculous and underappreciated organs. 2023 will be the year we spark a global conversation about the power and potential of the uterus—I can’t wait!"
Tomaszewska said: "Leah tells a story of the womb that provokes awe and occasionally, outrage, exposing the hidden life of this most extraordinary organ. Her knowledge, compassion and love for her subject comes through on every line and in publishing this book as our lead non-fiction title at Virago, we plan to make her the go-to expert on women’s health that we all need. The year 2023 will mark the 50th anniversary of Virago’s founding, and what better way to celebrate how it all began than to publish a landmark book about where we all began?"
Steed said: "Every time I mention Womb to an editor, colleague or friend, the response is always ‘how does this book not already exist?’ The reaction to Leah’s proposal around the globe has been incredible, and I cannot imagine a more passionate writer to deliver this essential biography of such a fascinating, undervalued organ; or better editors than Rose and Denise to publish it."
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