The Bookseller – Rights – S&S bags Bradley’s 1984 feminist reimagining in two-book deal


Simon & Schuster acquired The Sisterhooda feminist account by George Orwell 1984 by teacher Katherine Bradley.

Katherine Armstrong, Deputy Publishing Director for Adult Fiction, has acquired the UK and Commonwealth rights from Jane Gregory and Stephanie Glencross at David Higham Associates to the novel, along with a second title. The Sisterhood will be released in March 2023.

The Sisterhood is told from the point of view of Julia, the main female character in 1984.” says the synopsis. “A secret that would result in her death if discovered. Because Julia is part of the underground movement called The Sisterhood, whose main objective is to find members of the Brotherhood, the anti-party vigilante group, and help them overthrow Big Brother. When Julia thinks she’s found a potential Brotherhood member in fellow Brotherhood member Winston Smith, it seems their goal might finally be within reach.

“But as she grows closer to Winston, Julia’s past begins to catch up with her and we soon realize that she has a lot more secrets than we originally imagined – and that overthrowing Big Brother could cost him everything – but if you have nothing left to lose, you don’t mind playing the game.”

Armstrong said: “I was blown away by Katherine’s initial pitch for The Sisterhood. As an English teacher, she taught 1984 for many years and knows the text intimately, so it was so exciting to see her take that initial story and reimagine it the way she did. Here, Katherine gave Julia full agency and created story and emotional depth for a character who was just a small actor in the original story. It’s about love, family, being a wife, a mother, a sister, a friend, but ultimately it’s what you would sacrifice for the greater good. This is perfect for Christine Dalcher fans Voice and The Handmaid’s Taleand I’m incredibly excited to publish in March with our stunning cover.”

Bradley worked for many years managing services for people in prisons, psychiatric hospitals and the homeless. She currently works in education and holds an undergraduate degree in English Literature, in addition to qualifications in creative writing and teaching. Like Kate Bradley, she has published two suspense thrillers.

“Why venture into the territory of one of Britain’s most beloved writers? I got the idea to develop Julia’s story while teaching the text to a class of teenagers as part of a ‘a unit of dystopian literature,’ Bradley said. “Like all literature teachers, I love Orwell’s vivid writing. But during the years of Covid lockdown, teaching dystopia has developed a disturbing – and often surreal – resonance. In 2020, as I taught 1984, I felt a cold blade of fear – were we already experiencing the beginning of Orwell’s world? Certainly, his fears of control, class oppression, poverty and war remain contemporary concerns.

“The disparities between rich and poor and class division in this country have not dissipated – perhaps only deepened. The wars are sadly similar. As a woman, I was interested in Julia and wondered if he wrote now without the 1940s gaze, would Orwell write it differently, with agency, and if she had her own hopes, fears, and choices, what would they be?

“The idea of ​​modernizing and liberating Julia, of making her the woman I believe Oceania would force her to become, has not let me down. With only a love and respect for Orwell, I have passionate about freeing Julia’s voice, about creating relevance for her in the male-dominated tumult of Orwell’s imagined future. But there’s nothing futuristic about what she endures in The Sisterhood – unfortunately, it’s an old story told by women throughout history and across nations.

“So why venture into Orwell’s genteel territory? Because I think we women have a right to dispute whether this could be our future – and our sisters’, too. So, as another British teacher – just like Orwell was – I answered from the other side of the conversation, the side on which he no doubt hesitated: the female perspective. Julia’s story. And that was it.


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