William Collins lands Baird's Australian lockdown sensation

William Collins lands Baird's Australian lockdown sensation

William Collins has landed Australian lockdown bestseller Phosphorescence by journalist and broadcaster Julia Baird.

Grace Pengelly, commissioning editor, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights, excluding Australia, New Zealand and Canada, from Penguin Random House US. Phosphorescence: On Awe, Wonder and Things that Sustain You When the World Goes Dark is set for publication in May 2021.

The synopsis explains: “While recovering from a life-threatening illness, Julia decided to seek out ‘awe and wonder’ on a daily basis, embracing the ‘soothing power of the ordinary’ in an effort to survive, or even thrive, when the world goes dark. The book charts her journey as she goes in search of phosphorescence, a bio-luminescent phenomenon found in the natural world.”

Phosphorescence has sold more than 150,000 copies in Baird’s native Australia since it was published there by HarperCollins, topped the bestseller charts and frequently sold out in bookshops across the country. Published at the beginning of their first lockdown, Vogue Australia wrote it “could not be more poignant or timely”.

Pengelly said: “Julia has written a remarkably wise, life-affirming book that speaks directly to this moment. Her own journey, of seeking out light, nature and hope in the darkest of times, is one that reminds us that we can choose to ‘seek wonder’ in the face of suffering and doubt. Her writing will serve as a north star for those who feel exhausted and overwhelmed by the events of the past year.”

Baird, a former senior editor at Newsweek, presents for ABC TV and writes columns for the New York Times and the Sydney Morning Herald. She is the author of Victoria: The Queen: An Intimate Biography of the Woman (Blackfriars)

She said: “I am so thrilled at the prospect of meeting new readers in the UK after the astonishing response I have had to Phosphorescence in Australia, one I did not anticipate, or plot, at all. Many hundreds of people have written to me to tell me how much they, too, want to hunt awe and relish wonder, and build their pursuit into every day, as we all seek to find ways to find and nurture an inner light that will keep us going when the world goes dark, and life gets tough. Some ocean swim, others gaze at the insects in their gardens with a new attention and respect, and others just determinedly reflect anew on what it is that burns their own light, their phosphorescence. Being a part of this community of people is an absolute delight.”