Wellcome Collection and Profile are publishing Joanna Cannon's first non-fiction outing, Breaking and Mending, about life on the wards, stress and burnout, based on her own experience working as a junior doctor in the NHS.
Breaking and Mending is described as a "vital", "funny and moving" book in which Cannon will make the case for why the junior doctors and nurses who prop up our hospitals need access to mental health support now more than ever.
In the book she will explore "the unimaginable shift from the lecture hall to holding someone’s life in your hands" and "how it feels as a young doctor to find yourself completely out of your depth, being viewed by the world as ‘invincible’, even when your own mental health is fast unravelling".
Francesca Barrie, commissioning editor at Wellcome Collection, who acquired world rights from Sue Armstrong at C+W, said Cannon was "a dream author" for the Wellcome Collection, "not only for her unique insight as a writer and doctor, but for her remarkable ability to connect emotionally with readers".
Cannon herself worked as a psychiatrist and wrote her bestselling debut novel, The Trouble with Goats and Sheep (The Borough Press), in NHS hospital carparks during her lunchbreaks. In 2017, she delivered the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ President’s Lecture, and, although now a full-time writer, she still frequently returns to the wards as a volunteer with the NHS Arts for Health programme. In 2018 her second novel, Three Things about Elsie (The Borough Press), also became a bestseller and was longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction. All in all Cannon has sold 305,561 copies to date through Nielsen BookScan.
Breaking and Mending will be published in autumn 2019 by Wellcome Collection and Profile Books. The Borough Press, an imprint of HarperCollins, will meanwhile publish Cannon’s third novel in spring 2020.
Cannon commented: "There are many small, powerful moments on the journey to becoming a doctor and many occasions when our own mental and physical health can easily fracture. I am delighted to have an opportunity to write about these unseen moments and my own experiences as a medic, and to do this in collaboration with Wellcome Collection and Profile really is a dream come true."
Medical memoir has proven to be hugely popular in the past year, with This is Going to Hurt (Picador), based on the diary entries Adam Kay wrote during his medical training, shifting a whopping 453,920 copies across all print editions, according to Nielsen BookScan.