Orion Fiction has bagged the author Frances Quinn's debut novel at auction, telling the story of England’s smallest man.
Publishing director Clare Hey bought world English language rights from Alice Lutyens at Curtis Brown. The hardback of historical novel The Smallest Man will be published in February 2020.
Quinn, the 60th Curtis Brown Creative graduate to land a publishing deal, is a journalist and copy-editor. She completed her course three years ago and has been working on the novel ever since.
Her story starts in 1625 when main character Nat Davy is 10 years old. The synopsis explains: “All he wants is to be normal, but he is soon to realise that, as a dwarf, he will never be like the other boys. Presented to Queen Henrietta Maria as a gift, he becomes a friend to the woman who’ll become the power behind Charles I’s throne and trigger the Civil War. He’s England’s smallest man, but his story is anything but small.”
Hey said: “I completely fell for Nat’s voice in this fresh and distinctive historical coming-of-age novel. I had been looking for a novel set in the 17th Century, aware of the trend led by Stacey Halls’ The Familiars (Zaffre) and Kiran Millwood Hargrave’s upcoming The Mercies (Picador), and The Smallest Man hit that spot perfectly. Frances has managed to do what none of my teachers at school ever managed: to tell the story of the Civil War, a time of great upheaval in England, with verve, energy and clarity.”
Quinn added: “My book was inspired by a real-life character who fascinated me, but as I researched, his story opened out, revealing a time when England was bitterly divided, thanks largely to the hubris of one man, who thought he could handle a situation but messed it up. Families were split, no one could see how it would end. If that sounds familiar, well, I think good historical fiction tells us about the present, as well as the past. I’m thrilled to be published by Orion – Clare and her team are so passionate and full of ideas, and I’m really looking forward to working with them.”