Sphere has signed a blockbusting Eleanor of Aquitaine fiction trilogy by award-winning novelist Elizabeth Chadwick, for an undisclosed six-figure sum.
Sphere Senior Editor Rebecca Saunders bought UK and Commonwealth rights in three novels - THE SUMMER QUEEN, THE WINTER CROWN, THE AUTUMN THRONE - through Carole Blake at Blake Friedmann.
Sphere will publish the first novel in hardback in summer 2013 supported by major publicity, marketing and digital activity, and will implement an entire backlist reissue programme.
Chadwick, who is published in 19 languages, won the RNA's 2011 Best Historical Novel Prize for TO DEFY A KING last month.
Saunders said: "When Carole submitted the proposal to me I immediately began to imagine what the jackets would look like, the subject completely captured my imagination. After reading the first three chapters I was hooked and knew we had to publish these books - and in a big way. The story of Eleanor has all the ingredients for a huge commercial success: only 13 when she married Louis of France, Eleanor was a great heiress, and a queen of France and England, destined to change the map of Europe. She's a wonderful heroine."
"Most importantly these novels will present a very different Eleanor, an Eleanor told through her own words, her own feelings. As one of the most respected authors of historical fiction in the world, Elizabeth is best placed to reveal her."
"I am so excited that Sphere has given me the opportunity to write these three novels about Eleanor," Chadwick said. "I have wanted to tell her story for a while, using research that is absolutely unique to me. It's long past time the truth was told about this incredible woman, and the real Eleanor allowed to stand in her own light."
Little, Brown is investing heavily in this summer's publications of Chadwick's LADY OF THE ENGLISH in hardback, and the paperback of TO DEFY A KING.
Carole Blake said: "It was obvious from the marketing presentation Little, Brown made to us last month that their team are very serious about propelling Elizabeth Chadwick into enduring bestsellerdom. It's a happy partnership."