Headline imprint Tinder Press will publish a new novel by Maggie O'Farrell in April 2020, inspired by William Shakespeare's son, as the author celebrates her 20-year career.
Hamnet will be published 20 years to the month after O'Farrell's debut, After You'd Gone. Tinder Press will mark the publication with a reissue of her backlist in a refreshed cover style alongside a year-round programme of festival and bookshop activity.
"Opening in Warwickshire in the 1580s, the novel focuses on Agnes, a woman as feared as she is sought after for her unusual gifts," the synopsis states. "She settles with her husband in Henley street, Stratford, and has three children: a daughter, Susanna, and then twins, Hamnet and Judith. The boy, Hamnet, dies in 1596, aged eleven. Four years or so later, the husband writes a play called Hamlet."
Editor Mary-Anne Harrington said the book will see O'Farrell "rip up the rule book of historical fiction and refashion it in her own image".
O'Farrell said: "I have been fascinated by Hamnet ever since I first studied Hamlet at school, as a teenager. His death at such a young age and his connection to the subsequent play is a story I’ve been thinking about for a long time. I was always baffled and saddened by how little mention he receives in biographies and literary criticism, so I decided to write a novel about him, to attempt to give him a voice and a presence."
Victoria Hobbs, agent and director at A M Heath, has represented O'Farrell throughout her entire career. She said: "We couldn’t be more excited about Hamnet at A M Heath, and look forward to talking to Maggie’s many devoted translating publishers, and to bringing new ones on board, at the London Book Fair and beyond."
O'Farrell is the author of eight novels, selling 1.4 million copies through the TCM and 400,000 e-books.