Sceptre pre-empts Issa's 'authoritative history' of Alexandria

Sceptre pre-empts Issa's 'authoritative history' of Alexandria

Sceptre has pre-empted an exploration of the history of Alexandria in Egypt by presenter and academic Dr Islam Issa.

Juliet Brooke, associate publisher at Sceptre, secured world rights in Alexandria: The City that Changed the World from Adam Gauntlett at PFD in a pre-emptive deal. It is slated for publication in September 2023.  

“Combining rigorously researched history with the myth and folklore of the city, Alexandria is an authoritative history of a city that has shaped our modern world,” the synopsis reads. “This the first ever history of a city whose story tracks key moments in Western civilisation from the invasion of Alexander the Great to the Arab Spring. Alexandria was the crucible of cultural exchange between East and West for millennia and the undisputed global capital of knowledge that constantly pressed humanity into its next era. It also witnessed natural disasters, plagues, crusades and violence.  

“As a British-Egyptian historian whose family has roots in Alexandria, Islam Issa is uniquely placed to tell this story.”  

Issa is an award-winning writer, curator and broadcaster. He has featured on TV and radio more than 100 times on over 50 different stations worldwide and presented the BBC television documentary “Cleopatra and Me: In Search of a Lost Queen”. He also features on upcoming history shows on the BBC and Netflix. As reader in Literature and History at Birmingham City University, he has authored several academic books including Shakespeare and Terrorism, and contributes regularly to such outlets as the Guardian, New Statesman and the Times Literary Supplement.  

Issa said: “I don’t think there’s a city in the world that has as captivating a history and influence as Alexandria. Its story is packed with surprising events and absorbing characters that combine with its cultural mythology to create something extraordinary. The city is also an important part of my identity and ancestry so I’m excited to be publishing on such a dear topic and thrilled that it’s found the perfect home at Sceptre.” 

Brooke commented: “I was immediately gripped by Islam Issa’s exceptional proposal and I’m absolutely delighted to be publishing him. Most of us know about Alexander the Great and the famous library, but this brilliant book will demonstrate quite how crucial Alexandria has been to the history of modern Western civilisation. Like Istanbul and Jerusalem, the story of Alexandria is that of a city at the crossroads of cultures, languages and religion, of influential figures and dominant empires. Islam Issa will also show us the side of the city we don’t know – the seven Queen Cleopatras, the theft of the body of St Mark the Evangelist from an Alexandrian church, and the city today, still wrestling with its identity.’ 

Melis Dagoglu, head of rights at Hodder & Stoughton, said: “When I first read the proposal for Alexandria I knew this was something special. Not only because it will appeal to history lovers like myself, but readers all around the world will be fascinated to learn more about this ancient civilisation which revered books and knowledge above all or about the incredible women who made their mark on this fascinating city. We’re excited to see where this book will land internationally.”