Pan Macmillan has acquired a non-fiction work about the race between two eccentric characters on either side of the English Channel in the 1830s to develop the world's first photograph.
Non-fiction publisher Jon Butler bought UK and Commonwealth rights, excluding Canada, to Capturing the Light by Roger Watson and Helen Rappaport through Charlie Viney at The Viney Agency.
The book features English polymath Henry Fox Talbot and Louis Daguerre in France as they raced to claim the new technology and techniques.
Butler said: "This is narrative non-fiction at its very best‚ a tale of two lone geniuses racing to be the first to solve an ancient puzzle, in the best tradition of Longitude or Fermat's Last Theorem. And at the very heart of the book, a tiny, ghostly image of a Victorian window, so small and perfect that it 'might be supposed to be the work of some Lilliputian artist': the world's first photographic negative.
"We can't wait to bring this fascinating story to a wider audience."
Watson is a curator of the Fox Talbot Museum at Lacock Abbey, and Rappaport is the author of many popular history titles including Ekaterinburg, Conspirator (both Windmill) and No Place for Ladies (Aurum Press).
Pan Macmillan plans to publish in 2013.