The Bookseller – Rights – Welbeck bags historical fiction series of television’s Dr Hilary Jones


Welbeck Publishing Group has acquired an epic historical fiction series from GP and media physician Dr Hilary Jones.

Fiction publisher Jon Elek has entered into a two-book worldwide deal in all languages ​​with Kerr MacRae at Kerr MacRae LPA.

The series will trace the rise of an important British medical family in the 20th century. From wars to a pandemic, from the discovery of penicillin to the birth of the NHS, the titles will follow successive generations of the Burnett family as they lead vital developments in medicine.

The first title in the series, First line, is billed as a “high-profile” World War I drama and is set on the battlefields of Europe as the threat of the global flu pandemic looms. The novel will follow the daughter of an aristocrat who joins the war effort as a nurse. In a field hospital in rural France, she meets Will, the son of a docker serving as a stretcher-bearer. As rumors of an armistice begin to circulate, so does a mysterious respiratory illness soldiers call the Spanish Flu.

First line will be published in hardcover in September 2021.

Elek said: “It’s a big, page-turning thing, full of incredible historical and medical detail – I was completely captivated by the story and think readers will connect with these brave, naive characters who are caught in the tide of history. Fans of Jeffrey Archer, Barbara Taylor Bradford and Ken Follett will find their happiness here.”

Jones commented: “For a brief period, 1914-1918, the world suffered the double blow of war and pandemic. For those innocently caught up in such events, the consequences are shocking, random, terrifying and War and disease bring out the worst in people and challenge our concept of humanity, but they also bring out the best in people and define what is truly important in life. First line is a celebration of all those unsung heroes past and present who possess resilience, kindness and courage in equal measure.”

Jones is a GP who has appeared on ‘GMTV’ and ‘Good Morning Britain’ on ITV. He will donate part of the profits of First line to NHS Charities Together, the national charity partner of the NHS and an umbrella organization for the 241 NHS charities across the UK.

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