Multi-million-pound selling historical author Philippa Gregory is to take her fiction in a new direction in a four-book global deal with her publisher Simon & Schuster.
The deal, signed last week, is for three works of fiction and one of non-fiction. The Fairmile Series will depart from fictionalising the Tudor and Plantagenet courts to tell a “richly imagined, multi-generational story spanning three centuries and continents, with one family at its heart”.
The first novel is set in the mid-1600s and the series will cover 300 years of history, following the family through the ages as they rise from local tenant farmers in the south of England to travel the world and become dynamic entrepreneurs.
The first yet-to-be-titled novel is scheduled for simultaneous publication in the UK, US, Canada, Australia and India in September 2019.
The fourth book will be a non-fiction work exploring the contributions of "extraordinary yet little known women" throughout the centuries “historically demonstrating that women are agents of their own destinies”, the publisher said.
World publishing and audio rights were acquired from Anthony Mason, Gregory’s agent and husband. Gregory continues to be jointly edited by Suzanne Baboneau at Simon & Schuster UK and Trish Todd at Touchstone, an imprint of Simon & Schuster US.
This year will mark Gregory's 30th as a published author, with S&S and her former publisher HarperCollins throwing a celebration to mark her success at The Loft at The Ivy Club in May.
Carolyn Reidy, president and chief executive officer of Simon & Schuster, said the writer was “one of a handful of authors with a truly global audience”.
In the UK she has sold 5.5 million books for £36.3m through Nielsen BookScan, with her last three titles hitting both the Original Fiction and Mass Market Fiction number one spots. The Taming of the Queen sold 131,112 copies in paperback last year, and her 2017 paperback Three Sisters, Three Queens has already shifted 97,206 copies in two months.
Ian Chapman, chief executive and publisher of Simon & Schuster UK and International, said: "We couldn’t be happier to have signed Philippa Gregory’s next four books. Our ongoing success together is source of great pride and pleasure. The new direction that Philippa is taking with her fiction is extremely exciting, as is her proposed ground-breaking work of non-fiction. And all of this in Philippa’s 30th year of being a published author. We offer her our warmest congratulations, admiration and appreciation.”
Reidy added: “We are once again thrilled for the opportunity to publish Philippa Gregory at all our Simon & Schuster companies around the world. She is one of a handful of authors with a truly global audience. We know, based on our long and fruitful publishing relationship with Philippa, that readers in every corner of the world eagerly devour her captivating historical tales, and with this new series and work of nonfiction we look forward to joining her on yet another, albeit different kind of historical journey that is sure to grow her legion of enthusiastic readers.”
Gregory said she was “truly delighted” to continue her relationship with S&S.
“In my new series of novels, the journey that the Fairmile family will take through history from the 1600s is very close to my heart," she said. "The time feels right, too, to embark on my proposed work of non-fiction. I am very excited to be working with this incredible team to further our global success.”
The deal will thwart speculation at London Book Fair last month that Gregory was set to be poached by another publisher.