TV rights for historian Anne Sebba’s biography of Ethel Rosenberg, the only woman in the US to be executed for a crime other than murder, have been snapped up by Miramax Films.
The deal was brokered by Lesley Thorne at Aitken Alexander. Michael Edelstein will produce through Miramax Films with whom he has a first-look deal for television with Sebba attached as consultant and executive producer.
Weidenfeld & Nicolson acquired publication rights in Ethel Rosenberg: A Cold War Tragedy from Clare Alexander of Aitken Alexander Associates to publish as a £20 hardback on 24th June 2021. It is the first biography of Rosenberg in 30 years and the first to be written with the use of her prison letters, while also incorporating new interviews with her two sons and others who knew her, including fellow prisoners.
Controversially, Rosenberg was convicted for conspiracy to commit espionage on behalf of the Soviet Union, and she was executed on 19th June 1953 after spending her final three years in prison, two of them in solitary confinement. She was 37 years old and the mother of two young children.
Sebba said: "This is both a story for our time and above all a story of a woman, mother and a 1950s' housewife who dreamt of being an opera singer but instead dared to tell truth to power and paid the ultimate price."
Alan Samson, chairman of W&N, said: "Anne has established herself as one of Britain’s foremost biographers, and we are very proud to publish her. This is the book she was born to write. It is historically important as the scrupulously researched truth behind a shocking injustice, and it is also a marvellous feat of storytelling that will enthral every reader and viewer. With all her trademark precision, empathy and determination to bring women’s history and stories centre stage, Anne shines a spotlight on the story of Ethel to reveal a catastrophic failure of humanity."