Puffin makes six-figure pre-empt for Tamzin Merchant debut

Rights - Children Thursday, 09 May 2019

French rights in MG historical fantasy adventure sold to Gallimard

Puffin has beaten off stiff competition to secure The Hatmakers by Tamzin Merchant with a six-figure pre-empt, made within days of submission. Editorial director Natalie Doherty signed world rights in the novel and a follow-up through Claire Wilson at RCW. Gallimard has pre-empted French rights, and offers from further territories are arriving.

The Hatmakers (date tbc) is a middle-grade debut that "will delight fans of Nevermoor and The House with Chicken Legs". It is set in an alternate 18th-century London, where Cordelia, who comes from a line of magical milliners, sets out on a mission when her father is lost at sea.

Doherty said: "It's rare to read the opening lines of a book and realise instantly that you have in front of you something really special, but this was the case with The Hatmakers. This book has completely enchanted me; I haven't felt as immersed in a magical setting since stepping into Ollivanders. It's warm-hearted and wise, funny and adventurous, and beautifully written. We're thrilled to go on this adventure with Tamzin."

Wilson said: "When The Hatmakers landed in my inbox on a rainy January day it felt from the very first page like a burst of sunshine. The speed and the strength of the responses from publishers all over the world has been truly extraordinary, and I am so delighted that this joyous debut has found its home with Natalie and the team at Puffin."

Merchant said: "I could not be more delighted to be working with the amazing people at Puffin. Their enthusiasm and passion for The Hatmakers has completely bowled me over. I am so excited to share Cordelia Hatmaker's adventures through magical Georgian London. I hope children everywhere will be inspired by the message at the heart of the story: always keep wildness in your wits and magic in your fingertips."

Merchant is an actor and director. She played Georgiana Darcy in the 2005 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice; her next role will be in Amazon's upcoming series Carnival Row.

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