Faber & Faber has acquired To Provide All People, a "powerful virtuosic 'film-poem'" by prize-winning poet, novelist and playwright Owen Sheers.
Mitzi Angel acquired UK, EU and Commonwealth rights from Zoë Waldie at Rogers, Coleridge & White.
Faber will publish in July to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the National Health Service Act’s passage into law, and the broadcast of the Vox Pictures/BBC Wales production of the same name, which will air to mark the occasion. The production’s cast includes Michael Sheen, Tamsin Grieg, Martin Freeman and Meera Syal.
To Provide All People is the story of the NHS in British society today. Depicting 24 hours in the service, with a regional hospital at the centre of the action, the poem charts an "emotional and philosophical map" of the NHS against the personal experiences that lie at its heart; from patients to surgeons, porters to midwives. "This is a world of transformative pains, triumphs, losses and celebrations that joins us all in our universal experiences of health and sickness, birth and death, regardless of race, gender or wealth", said the publisher.
Based upon over 70 hours of interviews, the work is punctuated with the historical narrative of the birth of the NHS Act – from its origins in a local miners’ scheme in Tredegar in Wales, through multiple hearings, amendments and battles with the press, the BMA and the Conservative party, to its coming into effect in July 1948.
To Provide All People is a work that "excavates what the NHS represents and means – on a personal and national level – and paints an authentic, tonal picture of a rare social phenomenon, illuminating with exquisite sensitivity and power why the ethos at its heart should always be protected."
Faber chief executive Stephen Page said the book was "thought-provoking and profoundly moving piece of work, which both celebrates the NHS and is a rallying cry to save it before it is too late".
Sheers is a poet, novelist and playwright. Twice winner of the Wales Book of the Year, his books of poetry include Skirrid Hill, winner of a Somerset Maugham Award, the BAFTA-nominated The Green Hollow, and the verse drama Pink Mist, winner of the Hay Festival Poetry Medal. In 2018 he was awarded the Wilfred Owen Poetry Award.