Sceptre sews up deal for Hunter's Mary, Queen of Scots biography

Sceptre sews up deal for Hunter's Mary, Queen of Scots biography

Sceptre has picked up an alternative biography of Mary, Queen of Scots from Threads of Life (Sceptre) author Clare Hunter in a two-book deal.

Juliet Brooke, associate publisher, bought world rights from Jenny Brown at Jenny Brown Associates. The first book in the deal, Embroidering Her Truth: Mary, Queen of Scots and the Language of Power, will be published on 17th March 2022.

The synopsis explains: “In 16th-century Europe, women’s voices were suppressed and silenced. Even for a queen like Mary, her prime duty was to bear sons. In an age when textiles expressed power, Mary exploited them to emphasise her female agency. From the lavishly embroidered gowns worn when she was the prospective wife of the French Dauphin to the fashion dolls she used to encourage a Marian fashion style at the Scottish court and the subversive messages she embroidered in captivity for her supporters, Mary used textiles to advance her political agenda and her faith, affirm her royal lineage and to tell her own story."

Hunter’s Threads of Life was published to great acclaim in 2019. It won the Saltire First Book Award, was a Sunday Times bestseller, a Waterstones Scottish Book of the Month and Radio 4 Book of the Week. She has been a banner-maker, community textile artist and textile curator for more than 20 years and established the community enterprise NeedleWorks in Glasgow.

She said: “Mary, Queen of Scots has relevance for us today, when women’s authority is still being challenged and when many women’s voices remain unheard. That this Scottish queen continues to fascinate, nearly 500 years after her death, is testimony to the fact that her story of potential and disempowerment echoes that of many others through the centuries. And it was through her textiles that Mary exercised her power, using her embroidery in captivity to ensure that her story would be heard.”

Brooke said: “In Threads of Life, Clare exquisitely gave voice to the voiceless and showed how people have used sewing and embroidery as a language throughout history. For centuries, Mary’s story has been told by male chroniclers and the drama of her life—three marriages, rape, kidnap, imprisonment and execution—has overshadowed her own political agency. For the first time, Clare Hunter examines the tools Mary used as a queen to make her voice heard and the cultural context of her age. Embroidering Her Truth is an eloquent biography that unpicks the myths to give us Mary’s own story.”