Weidenfeld & Nicolson has won an auction to publish Revolutions, a celebration of women cyclists around the world from Hannah Ross, publicity director at Profile Books & Serpent's Tail.
In the book, Ross will explore how women changed the world on two wheels, telling the stories of inspirational women who are part of the history of cycling, many of whom have been pushed to the margins or forgotten.
Jenny Lord at Weidenfeld & Nicolson UK and Katie Zaborsky at the Plume imprint of Penguin Random House America each won rights to the book in separate British and American auctions conducted by Patrick Walsh at PEW Literary.
According to W&N, the book is "for anyone who would rather pedal the streets than pound them, and those who are curious about life on a bike", to which Lord added: "When it comes to books about cycling, women are wildly underrepresented, so it was a joy to read Hannah’s passionate and playful proposal. Revolutions will be both an illuminating, compelling history and the perfect inspirational gift for anyone who prefers life on two wheels."
Examples of women included in the "gloriously celebratory" book are: Simone de Beauvoir, who having been forbidden to ride a bike as a child borrowed her lover’s bike to cycle around Paris in the 1940s, instantly falling in love with the freedom it gave her (even when an accident caused her to lose a tooth); Alice Hawkins, a factory worker and suffragette from Leicester, who cycled around the city to promote the women's rights movement and recruit women to the cause; and Annie ‘Londonderry’ Kopchovsky, a 24-year-old Latvian immigrant living in Boston, who in 1894 became the first woman to cycle around the world. Kopchovsky took up the challenge, despite never having ridden a bike before, after two men bet that a woman couldn’t do it; ultimately she arrived back home ahead of schedule.
Ross, 38, is herself a dedicated cyclist who also helps refugee women in London learn to ride bikes in her spare time. Of her gear shift from publicist to author, with plans to take a sabbatical next year to write the book, she said it was both "incredibly exciting – and slightly surreal" to return to W&N - her first job in publishing - as an actual author.
"First-hand experience means that I know that they will do an excellent job publishing my book," she commented on the deal. "I have also admired so many of the books Jenny has acquired, so I’m truly honoured that she wanted to buy my book. And to be published by Katie at Plume in the US is the icing on the cake."
She added: "Revolutions is a global story, and the US has a particularly important role in the history of cycling, so I’m glad this book will reach readers there. I’m really looking forward to sharing inspirational stories of women who cycle with more readers – helping reclaim the story of cycling for women – and hopefully inspiring many of them to get on two wheels as well."
Revolutions will publish in hardback and e-book in Spring 2020.