Oneworld has acquired Miranda Kaufmann’s next book, Heiresses: The Caribbean Marriage Trade.
Heiresses follows on from Kaufmann's debut Black Tudors, also published by Oneworld, which was shortlisted for the Wolfson Prize and is also on the shortlist for the British Academy’s Nayef Al-Rodhan Prize for Global Cultural Understanding, which will be awarded in October. TV rights have been optioned by Silverprint Pictures.
In her new book, she will expose a hidden route by which fortunes built on slave labour in the Caribbean made it into Britain to the benefit of some of the nation’s most prominent families – through marriage. According to Oneworld, Kaufmann explores the lives of a dozen women whose inheritances not only enabled them to marry into the top tiers of the aristocracy, but also attracted impoverished naval officers, soldiers, writers and, on occasion, unscrupulous fortune-hunters, and how the tainted money was spent on everything from country houses and paintings to foreign travel and paying off gambling debts.
Editorial director Sam Carter acquired world rights (excluding North America) from Charlie Viney at The Viney Shaw Agency and commented: "We are thrilled to be publishing the brilliant and committed Miranda Kaufmann again, and in these stories of real-life Mrs Rochesters she’s found her perfect subject."
Kaufmann, a senior research fellow at the University of London’s Institute of Commonwealth Studies, added: "It’s fantastic to be given the opportunity to investigate these fascinating women, and expose how wealth generated by the labour of enslaved people in the Caribbean came to all corners of Britain, under cover of matrimony. I’ve already found stories of arranged marriages, elopements, great love affairs, adultery, divorce, compulsive gambling, outrageously opulent entertaining, political intrigue, bankruptcy, insanity and suicide. I’m delighted to be working with the outstanding, supportive team at Oneworld again, and looking forward to sharing what I find with the world."
Publication date for the new book is yet to be announced.