W&N has acquired a memoir about unexpected motherhood, therapeutic gardening and a little-known 19th-century botanist, from journalist Rosie Kinchen.
Editorial director Maddy Price acquired UK and Commonwealth rights in The Ballast Seed: A Memoir of Motherhood, Nature and Staying Afloat from Sophie Lambert at C&W.
According to the publisher, Kinchen’s memoir is a book about growing plants and keeping them alive and how they return the favour. While for Kinchen it is "a story about motherhood and a moment when life began to move too fast".
The author’s second pregnancy, a surprise so soon after the birth of her first son, resulted in "a despair that spiralled into deep depression", the book’s description from Orion reads.
Solace came in the form of "horticultural therapy in a secret garden hidden deep within the city" where, with the baby strapped to her chest, she discovered the gallery of Marianne North and in her found "a kindred spirit"; "a woman whose restlessness was driven by unhappiness, an introvert whose passion for plants allowed her to explore the most distant corners of the world".
Price described Kinchen’s writing "incredibly honest and expressive", adding she was "particularly moved by her descriptions of the unmooring of early motherhood".
"There is so much for readers to relate to here," she said, "from the struggle to keep supermarket herbs alive to searching for a sense of community in a busy city, I know readers will respond to Rosie’s story and beautiful, evocative writing as strongly as I did."
Kinchen is associate editor of the News Review at the Sunday Times, and is working towards a diploma in work-based horticulture. She commented: "This is a story about motherhood and a moment when life began to move too fast. I found many of the answers I needed in the green spaces around my home, in the stories of the people who created them and the communities that form there today. I wanted to write a book that talked honestly about the upheavals involved in becoming a parent as well as shining a light on the vital role that nature can play in our busy urban lives."
The Ballast Seed will be published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson in spring 2022 in hardback, trade paperback, e-book and audiobook.