Century signs Gill Hornby novel on the Austen sisters

Rights - Fiction Tuesday, 09 October 2018

Deal means that she joins her husband Robert Harris on the Arrow paperback list

Selina Walker, publisher at Century and Arrow, has signed Gill Hornby's Miss Austen, a novel about the relationship between Jane Austen and her sister Cassandra. Century has world English rights from Caroline Wood at Felicity Bryan Associates, and will publish in hardcover in early 2020.

Hornby - sister of Nick Hornby - has published the contemporary novels The Hive and All Together Now with Little, Brown/Abacus. Her non-fiction includes The Story of Jane Austen (Short Books). The new deal means that she joins her husband Robert Harris - whose hardcover publisher is Hutchinson - on the Arrow paperback list.

Miss Austen is set in 1840, more than 20 years after Jane Austen's death, and concerns Cassandra's decision to trace and destroy a cache of letters that the sisters exchanged.

Walker said: "I knew I wanted to acquire this novel as soon as I read the opening pages. The novel suggests an answer to the question that has always troubled academics as to why, towards the end of her life, Cassandra burned so many of Jane's letters, and it also explores Jane and Cassandra's deep and lasting relationship as Jane began to write her novels. This is a wonderfully original, emotionally complex 'reading-group' novel; integral to it too is Gill Hornby's feel for the history of the period which just seeps through the book's pores, and utterly transports the reader to a time when to be an unmarried woman was to be intensely vulnerable. It's a book that has touched me deeply and I hope will touch all of its future readers too."

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