Sceptre buys story of internment camp 'like no other'

Sceptre buys story of internment camp 'like no other'

Sceptre is set to publish non-fiction titleThe Island of Extraordinary Captives by Simon Parkin in 2022. 

The work draws on unpublished first-hand accounts and newly declassified documents to expose the history of the Hutchinson internment camp on the Isle of Man, that housed inmates including artists, athletes, royalty, musicians and fashion designers during the Second World War. 

Associate publisher Juliet Brooke bought UK and Commonwealth rights from Jane Finigan at Lutyens & Rubinstein.

Brooke said: "At a time when we’re living through one of the greatest refugee crises of recent years and when the need for compassionate governance is more important than ever, Simon’s incredibly timely book forces us to reckon with our past and confront our future. The Island of Extraordinary Captives also demonstrates the astonishing power of art in a crisis and tells a moving and thought-provoking hidden story from the war."

The synopsis of the book says: "On 13th July 1940 the British government opened an internment camp on the Isle of Man for so-called ‘enemy aliens’ – German, Austrian and Italian passport holders living in Britain at the time. Within weeks, more than 1,200 men had been imprisoned in the camp. Many had come to the UK seeking refuge from Nazi Germany, only to arrive in a country gripped by spy fever.

"Marked as potential Nazi collaborators, the refugees were imprisoned by the very country in which they had staked their trust. While the world reckons with the greatest refugee emergency of recent decades, this timely, gripping story from the Second World War explores what it takes for a country to retreat from compassion into fear, and what it takes for individuals to stand up to the injustice."

Parkin said: "Hutchinson camp was a place like none other: a clifftop prison filled with some of the most brilliant men of their generation. Despite the grave injustice of the situation, the captives turned their camp into a hive of endeavour, founding a cultural university, staging art exhibitions, and putting on concerts from the celebrated performers held behind barbed wire. The Island of Extraordinary Captives is a story of how hope triumphed over despair and shines a light on the people – mainly industrious women – who worked tirelessly for the release of the refugees, in order to right one of the great British injustices of the Second World War.”