Sphere is publishing The Witness, the first novel by barrister and non-fiction author Alexandra Wilson. Sphere publishing director Ed Wood acquired world rights from Hayley Steed at the Madeleine Milburn Agency and the book will publish in 2022.
Wilson is a 25-year-old, London-based barrister who founded the Black Woman in Law networking community and co-founded the One Case at a Time legal fund for representing cases of injustice to black people in the UK.
Her @EssexBarrister Twitter account has almost 41,000 followers and her memoir, In Black and White: A Young Barrister's Story of Race and Class in a Broken Justice System (Octopus), was published in August. She hit the headlines in September when she revealed she was stopped and mistaken as a defendant by officials three times in one day at court.
The Witness is described as "a moving thriller" about a young black man arrested for murder, having been seen with the victim by two white witnesses, a mother and a businessman. His newly qualified female barrister, who knows the accused, faces racial prejudice as she tries to prove his innocence.
Wood said: "Alexandra is a natural writer who combines her unique experience with great expertise and emotional complexity. The Witness is a novel only she could write and will genuinely break new ground in the genre."
Wilson said: "I’m really looking forward to telling this story. It’s fiction but something that will feel all too real for many of us."
Steed said: "I’m delighted that Alex is turning her hand to fiction—she’s already accomplished so much in her career and through her memoir, and I hope The Witness will spread her message even further."