Viking to celebrate the NHS's 75th birthday with new biography

Viking to celebrate the NHS's 75th birthday with new biography

Viking has acquired Fighting for Life: The Twelve Battles that Made Our NHS, and the Struggle for Its Future by Isabel Hardman, to be published ahead of the NHS's 75th anniversary in 2023. 

UK and Commonwealth rights were acquired by editorial director Tom Killingbeck from Andrew Gordon at David Higham Associates.

In Fighting for Life, Hardman will tell the story of the NHS through the people who keep it going—its nurses, its doctors, its patients and the politicians who decide its fate. She will interview key players to reveal the truth behind the headlines and show readers how the NHS really works and what the future looks like. Hardman will look at events that have surrounded the NHS since its establishment in 1948, from the sexual revolution of the '60s to the first test tube baby and from the Mental Health Act to the Coronavirus crisis.

Killingbeck said: "Isabel has proved herself time and time again to be one of the finest political writers of her generation, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome her to the Viking list. In this book she will do for the NHS what she did for Westminster in Why We Get the Wrong Politicians—untangle the incredibly complex and emotive story of how an institution works, from the personal to the political, and tell it with style and élan. The NHS may be reaching 75 soon but its life seems far from over—this book will shed new light on its history and help us to better understand it, too."

Hardman commented: "I am so delighted that Viking have asked me to write this biography of the health service. It gives me the opportunity to immerse myself in another institution that I find utterly fascinating, and to examine just why so many of us hold the NHS in such affection. I've begun my research while still surrounded by rainbow signs thanking the NHS in local windowpanes—the Covid-19 pandemic has underlined how precious and precarious much of the health service is, and I can't think of a better time to write about its past and its future. I will be working closely with the NHS, patients and politicians on the book, which like all biographies will chart the highs and lows of an extraordinary life."

Hardman is the assistant editor at the Spectator and writes columns for a number of other national newspapers. Atlantic Books previously published Hardman's Why We Get the Wrong Politicians (2018) and The Natural Health Service (2020).