Benedict Cumberbatch's production company SunnyMarch has pre-empted the TV rights to Ambrose Parry’s new novel The Way of All Flesh, the first in a new historical series set in the medical world of Edinburgh in the 1840s.
Ambrose Parry is a pseudonym for a collaboration between internationally bestselling and award-winning author Chris Brookmyre and his wife, a consultant anaesthetist with 20 years’ experience, Marisa Haetzman.
The novel will be published by Canongate as its superlead title in August 2018. International rights have already been sold in seven territories.
SunnyMarch’s managing director Adam Ackland and executive producer Claire Marshall went into exclusive negotiations for the book with Charles Walker at United Agents. SunnyMarch will be adapting the novel into a returning drama series.
Based on real historical figures, The Way of All Flesh is set in post-Enlightenment Edinburgh in 1847, a dual city home to brilliant advances in medical science and great poverty with a truly unsavoury, violent side. Medical student Will Raven is about to start his apprenticeship with the brilliant and renowned professor of midwifery, Dr James Young Simpson. It’s at Simpson’s thoroughly unusual clinic on Queen Street, where patients range from the richest to the poorest of this divided city, that Raven meets Sarah Fisher, officially housemaid and unofficially clinical assistant to Dr Simpson, determined to improve her station in life. After a string of mysterious deaths in the city, Raven and Sarah are propelled headlong into the darkest shadows of Edinburgh’s underworld, where they will have to overcome their differences if they are to make it out alive.
Marshall said: “Marisa and Chris have crafted a brilliant world from the real lives of remarkable men and women who made their mark in the history books and changed the face of medicine. We are incredibly excited about expanding on the themes and characters to make a bold, ambitious and thrilling drama series about young, restless, and flawed junior doctors. It’s a story about identity, sex and ambition shot through with a sense of modernity.”
Canongate publishing director Francis Bickmore added: “The electric power of Ambrose Parry’s historical novel brings the Victorian past to thrilling life in an entirely new and unforeseen way. It lends itself to a particular kind of imagination and energy on the part of its screen producers. Sunnymarch have just that energy. And everyone at Canongate is thrilled to be working with them on the next stage of this phenomenal story’s life.”
Meanwhile, Brookmyre and Haetzman added: “We were greatly inspired by Adam and Claire’s passion and vision for the novel, so we are utterly delighted that SunnyMarch will be the ones bringing Raven and Sarah’s world to the screen.”