Historian Kate Williams’ debut novel THE PLEASURES OF MEN has generated huge interest worldwide in the week since it went on submission. Simon Trewin at United Agents submitted the manuscript at 4.45pm on Wednesday 25th and it was acquired in a major pre-empt at 9.30am the next day by Mari Evans at Michael Joseph/Penguin and by Mondadori (Italy) and Mouria (Holland) on the following Monday. The US auction was concluded by Zoe Pagnamenta 48 hours later with Elisabeth Dyssegaard at Hyperion winning the rights in a major deal. Canadian rights were pre-empted on the same day by Iris Tupholme at HarperCollins Canada. Auctions in multiple territories are now underway.
THE PLEASURES OF MEN is set in 1840’s London and has, at its core, the sexual, obsessive underworld of murder, body-snatching, wrong science and torment that the Victorians tried to hide. Catherine Sorgeiul, nineteen years old and nervous of life, becomes preoccupied by a series of terrible murders of young girls sweeping London.. Details of the crimes are especially grim – the bodies have their limbs grotesquely folded behind them, their chests are slashed open and a twopenny coin rests on their bleeding hearts. Their hair has been newly-plaited, servered and thrust into their mouths and the serial killer is soon nick-named The Birdman. As the stench of murder reaches nearer her home Catherine realises that she has involved herself in a web of betrayal, deceit and terror that threatens her very being and the lives of those around her.
Kate Williams said, ‘In 2007, I visited a house in Princelet Street, Spitalfields, and I was suddenly absorbed in a new voice – that of Catherine, and her obsessions with murder. I began taking long walks around the East End, and the story became all absorbing. I went to live in Paris, and there, alone in a city I did not know, Catherine and her desires took me over.This past week has been a whirlwind. I am utterly delighted to be published by Michael Joseph, Hyperion and Harper Collins Canada. Simon, Zoe and Jessica have been incredible on the book’s behalf’.
Mari Evans/Fiction Publisher/Michael Joseph ‘Fiction debuts that make your spine tingle and keep you reading through the night – literally in this case – are all too rare, but Kate’s novel is distinctive in so many ways: from its riveting depiction of the dark underbelly of London’s East End in the 19th Century to its chilling plot, reminiscent of the best fin-de-siecle literature such as Shelley’s Frankenstein. Or in the beauty of the writing and the absolute commerciality of the tale Kate has chosen to tell through the mouthpiece of an unforgettable heroine. Stunning and exciting.’
Elisabeth Dyssegaard/Editor in Chief/Hyperion said ‘The Pleasures of Men is a fabulous debut –gripping, atmospheric, and informed throughout by her strong history background. It will be a publishing event’
Iris Tupholme/Editor in Chief HarperCollins Canada said ‘Kate Williams has brilliantly evoked the dark, strange and seductive world of Victorian London with its elaborate and restrictive courting
rituals, fascination with death and bizarre science. Compulsive reading for those who loved Perfume, The Crimson Petal and the White and The Historian. I started it in the evening and was amazed to see the bright sun outside when I finally looked up hours later. Unforgettable’