Viking has acquired a historical debut by Annie Garthwaite, reimagining the story of Cecily Neville, the Duchess of York and mother to two kings of England—Edward IV and Richard III.
Neville was the "last woman standing" of the Wars of the Roses, surviving far beyond her house’s ruin, but not previously seen as a vital player.
Garthwaite wrote Cecily in three years, after enrolling in an MA at Warwick University at the age of 55, following a career in business. She was tutored by Sarah Moss, who called Garthwaite’s creation "a startling heroine".
Garthwaite said: "This novel has been in my mind for over 30 years. In the end, I gave up my career to write it. It’s hard to resist Cecily. Though she lived 500 years ago, she’s a woman we can feel kinship with today and the questions she faced still resonate in our post-feminist age: What comes first, love or ambition? Who commands our first loyalties? How far might courage take us? I hope readers will find her story stirring and inspiring."
Katy Loftus acquired world rights from Imogen Pelham at Marjacq Scripts, commenting: "‘Cecily is a riveting, visceral, beautifully rendered account of the greatest unknown player in the Wars of the Roses; an area of literature that is still overwhelmingly peopled by men. Cecily was the most successful businesswoman and political mover of her day, and Annie is the perfect writer to bring her to life. The moment I read the first chapter I knew this extraordinary woman would stay with me long after I’d finished the book."
Pelham added: "Annie’s prose is extraordinary and she never loses control over her complex heroine. This is a hugely accomplished debut novel and I couldn’t imagine a better home for it than with Viking.’
Viking will publish the book in summer 2021.