Simon & Schuster will publish a novel inspired by the true story of Simon, the ship cat on HMS Amethyst, written by Lynne Barrett-Lee.
Assistant editor Carla Josephson made her first acquisition buying World rights to Able Seacat Simon from Andrew Lownie at the Andrew Lownie Literary Agency.
The book will be a fictional retelling of the story of Simon the cat, who was discovered as a kitten by a British sailor in the docks of Hong Kong in 1948 and taken on board HMS Amethyst. As well as becoming the ship’s rat-catcher, he was seen as the crew’s mascot, gaining the title "Able Seacat". He sustained war wounds from canon fire in the Yangtze conflict of 1949. For his bravery and his part in keeping the crew’s spirits up, he was awarded the Dickin Medal – the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross – which he remains the only feline recipient of to this day.
Josephson said: “When I first discovered Simon’s tale, I was amazed that it wasn’t more widely known. As a cat-lover, I’m absolutely thrilled to publish this reimagining of his life and heroics. It’s a great story that tugs at the heartstrings while offering an interesting facet of World War II history from a unique perspective – Simon’s.”
Barrett-Lee is the author of eight novels, including Barefoot in the Dark (Accent Press), which was shortlisted for the 2007 Melissa Nathan Award for Comedy Romance. She has also ghost-written memoirs such as Giant George (Simon & Schuster), the antics of the world’s biggest dog and the story of a girl who grew up among monkeys in the Colombian rainforest, The Girl with No Name (Mainstream Publishing).
Simon & Schuster will publish Able Seacat Simon in hardback in March 2016.