Penguin Random House imprint Puffin has acquired actress Tamzin Merchant’s debut middle-grade novel in a “hotly-contested” six-figure pre-empt deal.
Set in an alternative 18th century London, The Hatmakers is about a girl who comes from a long line of magical milliners. When Cordelia’s father and his ship are lost at sea, she is determined to find him. At the same time the family’s creations, along with those of their rivals, the magical Bootmaking, Glovemaking, Cloakmaking and Watchmaking Guilds, are beginning to cause confusion and chaos. It’s up to Cordelia to find out who is behind it and why.
Editorial director Natalie Doherty acquired world rights in a two-book deal from Claire Wilson at RCW.
Doherty said: “It’s rare to read the opening lines of a book and realise instantly that you have in front of you something really special, but this was the case with The Hatmakers. This book has completely enchanted me; I haven’t felt as immersed in a magical setting since stepping into Ollivanders. It’s warm-hearted and wise, funny and adventurous, and beautifully written. We’re thrilled to go on this adventure with Tamzin.”
Puffin will publish in hardback, with publication date to be confirmed. French rights have been pre-empted by Gallimard and deals for other languages are in negotiation.
Merchant played Georgiana Darcy in the 2005 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice and her next role will be as Imogen Spurnrose in Amazon’s upcoming original series Carnival Row.