TLS editor Stig Abell's first book to John Murray

TLS editor Stig Abell's first book to John Murray

Stig Abell, editor and publisher of the Times Literary Supplement, has chosen John Murray to publish his first book: How Britain Really Works.

John Murray publisher Mark Richards bought UK Commonwealth rights from Cathryn Summerhayes at Curtis Brown.

The book is pitched as "a witty, engaging and wide-ranging guide to the country we now live in", including "accessible analysis of Britain and its institutions", and will publish in the UK in May this year. 

According to John Murray, How Britain Really Works will fuse "entertaining and fast-moving narrative" with "factual, detailed and thought-provoking analysis" to help readers reach their own conclusions and understand exactly how Britain works, or doesn’t.

In the book, Abell will explain British institutions such as the economy, the military, schools, hospitals and the media, and explore Britain's various contradictions as "a nation that chose Brexit, rejects immigration but is dependent on it, is getting older but less healthy, is more demanding of public services but less willing to pay for them, is tired of intervention abroad but wants to remain a global authority".

Richards said: "I can think of few better guides to the current state of our nation than Stig Abell, and few other writers who could combine such breadth of knowledge and experience with such wit and enjoyable prose. How Britain Really Works is essential reading for anyone who’s wondered how it is we’ve ended up with the country we have today: why the NHS always seems to run out of money; why there are so many different types of schools; how our economy functions and political system works, and much more. Both even-handed and opinionated, it informs as it entertains."

Abell said: "Now that I have finished writing, I am bursting with a combination of excitement and self-loathing. The idea came when I saw that there were plenty of books about different aspects of Britain, but not an obvious place that has centralised information useful to anyone who wants to be clear about what sort of country Britain has really become. We are now all growing up in a maelstrom of detail without the opportunity to pause to understand it. I hope this book provides that pause and gives people the facts needed to have an informed conversation about the state we’re really in."

The acquisition follows news that the Times Literary Supplement has grown its circulation 20% year-on-year. Abell, current TLS editor and publisher, also presents Front Row on Radio 4.